Stress Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month has been recognized every April since 1992, but this year it seems particularly important. Learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with these situations can go a long way in living a physically and mentally healthy life.
What is stress?
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances by the American Institute of Stress. It is important to note that everyone experiences stress regularly.
A 2017 study from the American Psychological Association found the most common sources of stress reported among Americans was the “future of our nation” (63% of respondents mentioned), Money (62%), Work (61%), political climate (57%), violence/crime (51%).
Affecting more than just your mind
Long term stress not only affects you mentally but also physically. It may lead to headaches, ulcers, weight gain, depression as well as serious issues like stroke and heart disease.
When you are placed in a stressful situation, specific stress hormones rush into your bloodstream leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. This release of hormones comes from the “Fight or Flight Response” which is helpful in emergency situations, but having this “rush” for extended periods of time can be dangerous and make you susceptible to the issues mentioned previously.
Learn to overcome issues you can not change
Sometimes the stress in our lives is not something we any power to change – it is during these times that Federal Occupational Health recommends you change your approach to situations. Try to…
- Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
- Avoid getting anxious about situations that you cannot change.
- Take control of your reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control.
- Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth, and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.
Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Here are some healthy ways you can deal with stress:
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
- Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These may seem to help, but they can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
- Take a break. If news events are causing your stress, take a break from listening or watching the news.
- Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.