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Statewide Culture 0

Reducing May-cember Stress


Tell me you’ve seen it: the viral video about “May-cember” or the meme asking for the petition to move Mother’s Day out of our second craziest month of the year!?! While April was Stress Awareness Month, it seems that we need some reminders right now to survive the rest of “May-cember.”

What things cause stress in our lives?

Stress can manifest in myriad forms and stem from diverse sources. One of the main things we must do is determine the stress factors in our lives to identify stress sources and better focus on resolutions.

  • Workplace stressors can lead to significant emotional and psychological strain. The pressure to perform, meet expectations and deadlines, and maintain a steady income can be overwhelming and contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Financial stressors like debt, unexpected expenses, job loss and economic instability can create immense worry and uncertainty. The inability to meet financial obligations can lead to sleepless nights, strained relationships, and hopelessness.
  • Relationship stressors, such as marital problems, divorce, separation, and conflicts with family and friends, can also take a toll on one’s well-being. The emotional turmoil, hurt, and sense of isolation that accompany relationship issues can be incredibly distressing.
  • Health stressors can profoundly affect both physical and mental health. Chronic illnesses, serious injuries, and the illness or death of loved ones can trigger intense feelings of grief, fear, and uncertainty and can be emotionally and psychologically draining.

  • Environmental stressors, such as natural disasters, accidents, crime and exposure to violence, can be overwhelming and traumatic. These events’ sudden and unpredictable nature can lead to feelings of shock, fear and helplessness.
  • Significant life changes can also be stressful, even joyous, like moving, marriage, having a baby or retirement. The transitions involved in these events can disrupt routines, relationships and sense of stability, leading to feelings of uncertainty and stress.
  • External stressors like individual personality traits, unmet expectations, and coping mechanisms can also contribute to stress levels. Perfectionism, anxiety, and a tendency to catastrophize can amplify the impact of stressors and make it more difficult to cope.
  • Broader societal issues such as poverty, social inequality and political/social unrest can also be sources of stress. Socioeconomic disparities, discrimination, and a lack of access to primary resources can create chronic stress and contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

What can we do to resolve these stressors?

In the whirlwind of May-cember, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the relentless barrage of social engagements, family obligations and end-of-school-year commitments. However, implementing a few simple strategies allows you to navigate this hectic period gracefully and efficiently.

Prioritize and Plan:

Take a step back and assess your commitments. Prioritize tasks and create a realistic schedule that allocates time for both essential activities and self-care. Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks to make them less daunting.

Make it practical: Look at your to-do list. What can you mark off quickly? Then, determine what’s left and what pieces are a “must” or “if.” Let this guide how you move forward.

Morning Mindset print, click here. Weekly Planner print,  click here.

Delegate and Collaborate:

Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to others. Involve your partner, family members, or friends in the planning and execution of events. Collaboration can lighten your load and foster a sense of teamwork.

Make it practical: Are there tasks you can batch together? Or, if something feels like a necessity, could you double your effort on one thing and ask a friend to double their effort on something you both have on your to-do list? Teacher gifts, field day, errands, appointments, shower presents, etc.

Say “no” if you are at your capacity. Empower yourself. Everyone is busy. You don’t have to explain your reason.

Set Boundaries and Learn to Say No:

It’s OK to decline additional commitments if you already feel stretched thin. Set clear boundaries and politely decline invitations that would further overwhelm you. Remember, self-care is not selfish—it’s essential for your well-being.

Make it practical: Say “no.” Look at your schedule this week and see if there is something you can turn down. Saying “no” once gives you the power to find your voice!

Practice Mindfulness and Stress-Reduction Techniques:

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Engage in meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to calm your mind and reduce stress. Consider exploring relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery.

Make it practical: set timers on your phone or work calendar to get up from your desk and stretch on a wall or door frame. Refill your cup and walk around the office, stand near a window and observe the outdoors, or get a breathing app to help you practice some grounding techniques.

Nurture Your Body and Mind:

Prioritize healthy eating habits, adequate sleep and regular exercise. Nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods that fuel your energy levels. Engage in physical activities you enjoy, as exercise is a natural stress reliever.

Make it practical: Set a goal to go for a family walk after dinner a couple of nights next week or get out in the backyard and throw the ball together.

Seek Social Support and Professional Help:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talking about your challenges and concerns can provide emotional relief and help you gain a fresh perspective. If stress becomes unmanageable, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

Make it practical: Ask for help. Whether it’s a friend, a co-worker or a partner, ask for accountability to seek therapy or a safe place to share.

11 specific practices in Arkansas that can help reduce stress:

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage stress during May-cember and maintain balance and well-being throughout this busy period. Remember, it’s essential to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed.

All pictures used with permission from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Meet the

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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