April is National Stress Awareness Month. And if you're feeling stressed, you're not alone.
"The recent annual report from the American Psychological Association on stress in America shows that 74 percent of adults say they have experienced at least one symptom of stress in the past month," author Ingrid Forsberg writes in an article for wellness website Thrive Global. "Almost half of Americans, or 45 percent, say they lay awake at night due to stress."
Fortunately, Forsberg -- an assistant professor in the family nurse practitioner program at Chicago's Rush University College of Nursing -- has a prescription: silence.
"Research over the past several years demonstrates that silence has been found to stimulate brain growth, reduce stress, allow you to sleep better, reduce heart disease, increase your awareness and provide more opportunity to solve problems," explains Forsberg, who advises stressed-out patients to drop everything, put away all electronics and breathe deeply.
"I instruct patents to start with two minutes of being quiet, with no media input and no talking. During the two minutes, the tendency is to keep your mind ablaze with problem-solving. When this happens, repeat a work or a phrase that you find comforting, such as 'breathe deeply,' 'peace,' 'surrender' or any calming word," Forsberg says. "I tell patients to set a timer so there is no need to look at the clock, and to practice this two to three times a day, keeping eyes open or closed."
After three to five days, Forsberg recommends increasing quiet time to five minutes several times a day. "The goal is to get to at least 10 minutes twice a day," she continues. "Of course, this will not eliminate all the stressors in your life -- as so many are out of our control -- but it's a quiet start."
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