Stress Awareness Month is a month devoted to understanding the consequences of stress. During this month, health professionals public health experts work together to help promote awareness of how stress affects everyone, as well as discover ways on how to help reduce stress. Stress Awareness Month started in 1992, when attention was first brought to how stress can affect the body. April became Stress Awareness month. The act had spread to the UK soon after, which made November Stress Awareness Month.
What is Stress?
Stress is, in and of itself, a biological trigger. It responds to our body’s “fight or flight” response, and motivates us to react in a way that reduces it. We deal with stress every day. It helps us get our work done, and prevents us from injuring ourselves. But while stress can be healthy, it can also lead to a host of medical problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, and a variety of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This, in turn, can damage your quality of life. Some common stressors people face include:
- Home life
- Interpersonal relationships
- Financial problems
- Chronic illnesses
- Low self-esteem
- Political attitudes (as of 2016)
Despite the fact that changing your lifestyle can help reduce stress, much of America is still enveloped in what is called a stress epidemic. For instance, statistics show that the pressures at work, relationships, and finances are often the most common stressors (1). Interestingly enough, as of 2016, the American Psychological Association has reported that political climates are now seen as a stressor. This could be due to the volatile atmosphere politics have introduced, as well as the issues that have taken hold of the country (2).
Oftentimes, stress symptoms often depend on the person. While these symptoms may seem insignificant at first, as stress builds up in your body, the symptoms start to manifest in a way that interferes with your everyday living. Below are some common stress symptoms many people suffer from, including but not limited to:
- Dietary changes
This often includes eating more or less of what you eat. In a way, food can grant a person an escape in their otherwise busy lives, a reprieve to distract themselves. However, at the same time, a person may forgo eating simply because they feel they have to do something about their stress, or that they may feel helpless.
- Substance use
Individuals may abuse alcohol or drugs to try and escape from their stress. More often than not, this introduces additional problems that may make the individual susceptible to health complications, such as various mental health disorders, liver damage, and heart problems.
When someone is suffering from chronic stress, they often worry about situations that they may not even need to worry about. This can promote other conditions like insomnia.
- Body aches
How to Alleviate Stress Symptoms
There are many ways you could relax in order to help ease the symptoms. Taking up hobbies is an excellent way for you to relieve some of your stress. Many hobbies often have additional health benefits in addition to helping you relax. For instance, when you take up arts and crafts, or even reading, not only will you be able to escape your stress, it will also help keep your mind sharp, and develop skills you can later use to improve your situation. Other ways you could relax include:
Exercising has been shown to improve your attitude, as well as reduce anxiety symptoms (3). It can also help with your overall health by promoting weight loss, heart health, and your energy levels. Exercising, not surprisingly, can help you reduce stress.
By using essential oils, you can help calm your body and reduce the stressful symptoms. Some recommended oils include lavender, frankincense, and orange blossoms.
- Diet changes
Ironically, while changes in eating habits can indicate stress, you can also reduce stress by doing the same thing. By changing habits such as reducing caffeine intake, and eating healthier, you can increase your energy levels and improve your mood.
Vaping has become a popular way to relax. Back then, many people used to turn to smoking in order to decrease stress. This was due to the nicotine in the cigarette. Vaping is an alternative solution that carries the same, relaxing effect, without the addictive qualities nicotine carries.
Stress is important in every day living. Chronic stress, on the other hand, can introduce you to a host of diseases that could reduce your quality of life. Still, by doing activities you love, as well as changing your lifestyle, you can reduce your stress to where it can drive you to do your best, without the added health risks.