April is National Stress Awareness Month.
Stress manifests itself as a physical, psychological or social dysfunction resulting in individuals feeling unable to bridge the gap with the requirements or expectations placed upon them. The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers!
Address Your Stress!
Stress is a natural part of every person’s life, but reoccurring stress can be very hard on us socially, emotionally, and physically. Workplace stress can be especially taxing, and it’s becoming more common according to the American Institute of Stress, with 40% of workers reporting their job to be very or extremely stressful. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we have complied this Stress Awareness and Media Kit for you to use in your marketing campaigns. We encourage you to share these stats, prevention methods, and health risks associated with stress with your clients. Information can be shared online as blog posts on websites or social media content, in newsletters, as talking points in presentations, or anywhere you think it would fit to help you help your clients.
5 Things You Should Know About Stress
1. Stress affects everyone. Examples of stress include:
- Routine stress related to the pressures of work, school, family and other daily responsibilities
- Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness
- Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress often experience temporary symptoms of mental illness, but most recover naturally soon after.
2. Not all stress is bad. Stress can motivate people to prepare and perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job.
3. Long-term stress can harm your health. Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.
4. There are ways to manage your stress. The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to manage your stress can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress.
- Recognize the Signs
- Talk to Your Doctor or Health Care Provider
- Try a Relaxing Activity
- Set Goals and Priorities
- Stay Connected
- Consider a Clinical Trial
5. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.
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Learn 5 Ways to De-Stress
- Stay positive.
Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
The practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintains a healthy weight.
It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the record. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each day – even if its for just 10 or 15 minutes – to escape the world.
- Find ways to take the edge off your stress.
Simple things, like a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favorite hobby, can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try
1. Mindful Breathing
This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. If you can sit down in the meditation (lotus) position, that’s great, if not, no worries.
Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.
2. Mindful Observation
This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way.
The exercise is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around in the car or hopping on and off trains on the way to work.
3. Mindful Awareness
This exercise is designed to cultivate a heightened awareness and appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve.
Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example.
4. Mindful Listening
This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way, and indeed to train your mind to be less swayed by the influence of past experiences and preconception.
So much of what we “feel” is influenced by past experience. For example, we may dislike a song because it reminds of us of a breakup or another period of life when things felt negative.
5. Mindful Immersion
The intention of this exercise is to cultivate contentment in the moment and escape the persistent striving we find ourselves caught up in on a daily basis.
Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.
6. Mindful Appreciation
In this last exercise, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated. These things can be objects or people; it’s up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.
4 Surprising Health Benefits of Stress
Some people think any type of stress is bad, but this isn’t the case. In truth, all stress is not created equal. Obviously, when you’re overwhelmed and under pressure it’s hard to see the silver lining. And if someone told you stress is beneficial to your health, you might laugh them off or suggest they have their head examined. But there’s validity in this statement.
This doesn’t mean you should make your life as complicated and stressful as possible. The saying “stress kills” couldn’t be a truer statement. When chronic stress — which is the bad type — dominates your thoughts day in and day out, it does a number on your body, causing anxiety, tiredness, high blood pressure, depression, etc.
Although you should do whatever it takes to avoid this type of relentless mental abuse, you should welcome moderate doses of stress with open arms. Humans have a flight-or-fight response, which is an inborn physiological reaction that occurs when they’re under attack. Your body is wired to handle every day, normal stressors, and when your natural defenses kick in, your well-being improves. So, before you coin stress as the “bad guy,” consider some of these surprising health benefits.
• It Improves cognitive function
• It helps you dodge a cold
• It makes you a tough cookie
• It enhances child development
The Effects of Stress on Your Body
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time and we all deal with our stresses differently. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. Stress, at times, can be beneficial. It can help you cope with serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Even though there are some positives to stress, chronic stress can take a toll on you health. Click to link to further see how stress can effect you both mentally and physically.
10 Health Problems Related to Stress
Stress can be the cause of several different health risk. Here are 10 problems that are directly related to stress.
1. Heart Disease
Researchers have long suspected that the stressed-out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. We don’t know why, exactly. Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow, and causes the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the blood
Many studies have shown that stress can worsen asthma. Some evidence suggests that a parent’s chronic stress might even increase the risk of developing asthma in their children.
Excess fat in the belly seems to pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or hips. Unfortunately, that’s just where people with high stress seem to store it.
Stress can worsen diabetes in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviors, such as unhealthy eating and excessive drinking. Second, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
Stress is considered one of the most common triggers of headaches – not just tension headaches, but migraines as well.
6. Depression and anxiety
It’s probably no surprise that chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety. One survey of recent studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few than people with lower stress.
7. Gastrointestinal problems
Stress doesn’t cause ulcers, but can lead to making them worse. Stress is also a common factor in many GI conditions, such as chronic heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome.
8. Alzheimer’s disease
One study found that stress might worsen Alzheimer’s disease, causing the brain to form lesions quickly. Some researchers speculate that reducing stress has the potential to slow the progression of the disease.
9. Accelerated aging
There’s actually evidence that stress can affect how you age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were under high stress – they were caring for a chronically ill child – with women who were not.
10. Premature death
A study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly caregivers looking after their spouses — people who are naturally under a great deal of stress. It found that caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death than people their age who were not caregivers.
5 Ways to Celebrate National Stress Awareness Month
Before Thanksgiving and the downslide to Christmas come along, you should have a plan for a few coping mechanisms to make it through the holidays. Andrea Kimura, a certified wellness and health coach at MU, suggests setting aside some time for self-care during the holidays.
Meditation helps you focus your thoughts and calm your mind. The Mayo Clinic suggests that meditation might be useful if you have a medical condition, particularly one worsened by stress.
- Play with Pets
Give your pet a little extra love around the holidays. Several studies have shown that pets can provide emotional support — and what better time to utilize your pup’s unconditional love than in the chaos surrounding the end of the year?
- Listen to Music
There’s no doubt music has an effect on our moods. We turn up the party tunes for a night on the town; we cry to sad love songs during a break-up. When we’re stressed, listening to our favorite chill music can help us remain calm.
Exercise is a great way to bust stress. Kickboxing, cardio, CrossFit — whatever your workout regimen is, it’s likely doing its job to reduce your tension. Yoga is extra helpful because it calms both your mind and body, and keeps you at ease to deal with whatever comes at you.
- Get Some Sleep
“The easiest thing a person could do is get the sleep that they need. When we’re tired, those emotions come to the surface and we’re more sensitive,” says Kimura. “We react rather than respond.” Though it’s not always easy, hitting the hay an hour or two earlier each night can dramatically decrease stress levels.