KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Stress is part of daily life. It’s how each individual deals with issues that makes a difference, according to health experts.

April is Stress Awareness Month. A time to bring attention to the things that really stress us out, and the negative impact that stress has on health.

Coincidentally, April is also Alcohol Awareness Month. Health experts say too often when people are stressed they turn to alcohol.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the issue of both stress and alcohol consumption.

“In recent years, living through the unprecedented uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other global external factors, have compounded this stress,” Dr. Lee Norman, Sr. Medical Director at Optum Healthcare-Kansas City, said.

The American Psychological Association found a larger number of adults turned to alcohol during COVID-19. A study determined 23% of adults said they drank more alcohol to cope with stress during the pandemic.

While the pandemic is over, COVID-19 is still a threat, even if it’s a much lower one now. The virus still concerns many people around the globe.

A study published in Prevention Medicine determined people suffering from anxiety and depression before the pandemic were more likely to drink during the pandemic compared to people without mental health issues.

Health experts say it’s time to take steps to deal with daily stress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. Dr. Norman points to evidence that exercise can strengthen bones and muscles, and may also reduce the risk of chronic disease. Exercise can also help manage depression and anxiety.

The CDC also recommends having someone to talk to who will listen to concerns. Dr. Norman agrees that friends and family can help manage stress just by talking about the issues that trigger anxiety.

Dr. Norman also suggests following the advice of the National Institute of Mental Health and find an enjoyable activity that also includes meditation and breathing exercises to help lower stress levels.