Challenge Idea: Reduce Your Stress

October 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In observance of this year’s event, challenge your department to reduce their stress levels this month. Every job can cause stress; however, firefighting takes stress to a new level. Each time you get called out to an emergency, you are expected to drop everything to serve your community. This means possibly missing out on family gatherings and other important events in your life, as well as risking your physical and mental health.

According to American Psychological Association (APA), poorly managed stress can contribute to obesity, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease. Hobbies and sports can provide a nice distraction from stress and relieve tension; having down-time is important. When it comes to effectively managing stress, recreation is just as important as household chores or bills, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.

This October, do something for YOU to clear your mind for at least 20 minutes a day. Whether it’s picking up a new hobby or sport, taking your dog for a walk, reading a book outside on a nice day, or going for a run on a treadmill, the point is to clear your mind while doing something you enjoy and getting your mind off of your stressors. You’ve completed the challenge if you take 20 minutes of relaxation time each day for at least 21 days this month.

Tips to help complete your challenge:


  1. If you choose to pick up a hobby, match it to your personality. If you're a detail-oriented person, you might like hobbies that require precision, such as welding or working on cars. If you're more spontaneous and like to make a mess, you could try ceramics, gardening, or photography. If you want to get your heart pumping and want to pick up a new sport, try kayaking, rock climbing, or biking.
  2. Take a class or join a club to meet other people that enjoy your new hobby or sport. Human beings are social animals, and research shows that socializing with others helps release stress.
  3. Make time for your hobby or sport every week and ideally every day. Experts advise meditating for at least 20 minutes a day, so try to do the same to get continuing benefits.
  4. Enjoy the process of learning your new hobby or sport. Many people rush to perfection, but the fun and the healing benefits are in the process. That's when you push anger, anxiety, and everyday worries out of the way.
  5. Don’t be a perfectionist. Give yourself permission to enjoy your hobby without expecting your projects to be masterpieces. If you make it another chore that you have to accomplish perfectly, you'll lose the therapeutic benefits and the fun.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others. If you're a beginner, let yourself be a beginner. Persevere with your hobby because you love it. You don't even have to finish your projects if you don't want to. The point is to find what makes you happy, and what helps to relieve your stress.

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