April is stress awareness month. It’s where we have to get real with ourselves and admit pent up stress is taking a toll on our bodies. We’re all aware of stress, but a lot of us don’t take the steps we should to diminish, or eliminate, the stress all together. Because stress is such a big part of our lives, it doesn’t seem as though getting rid of it is even a possibility! But study after study shows the same thing: stress leads to deadly results – heart disease, diabetes, depression, and more. We can’t avoid stress. We can, however, manage it through diet, exercise, and meditation. Last month Mountain States Diabetes entered into our second year serving the Montana communities with a newsletter about eating and sleeping better. Next month we’ll turn our focus to exercise and mental health. This month let’s take a peek into the world of meditation as a means of managing stress. Sit and Breathe Meditation: one of the simplest forms of meditation is to find a comfortable spot, and focus on your breathing. When thoughts sneak their way in, acknowledge them, and return your focus to breathing. Walk or Run Meditation: combining exercise with meditation builds a stronger body and mind. Walk or run with your focus on your breathing, how your body feels, and become aware of yourself. Read and Reflect Meditation: reading helps to expand our minds, but often we just read to have read. Instead, read a short section of any book you choose, and then reflect on the meaning and application for a few minutes. Gratitude Attitude Meditation: science tells us that grateful people are happier, healthier, and live longer. It’s as simple as finding the good in everything, and focusing on gratitude. It will take time to make it a habit, but stress dissolves when you’re thankful. Determine which meditation practice is best for you, and then build it into your life as a non-negotiable habit. On of my favorite ways to get rid of stress is to get out there and do something! Each Thursday night in April The Old Post on Spruce Street hosts a Jazz Night; let the music melt your stress. Comedian Dan Cummins will be at The Wilma on April 23rd; laughter is a great stress buster!