Stress Awareness Month: Recognizing & Managing the Signs

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

With a general consensus of the global population dealing with stress-related issues in their daily lives, it only becomes necessary to talk about it out loud. And that is the start of designating April as Stress Awareness Month.

What is Stress Awareness Month?

First held in April of 1992, Stress Awareness Month aims to bring awareness on how stress can hamper your life and become risky for your health – invading the day-to-day aspects of it.

What is stress one may ask and it can be anything from the queasy feeling in your stomach after you’ve just eaten or the rapid heartbeat that you experience while crossing a street. Have you ever felt the pain of losing a loved one or the overwhelming feeling of time being fickle or the frustration of not being understood enough by people? If these feelings have been persistent in the recent past, then they might be your trigger marks for stress. These and more. To quote the National Institute of Health, “It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stress events so that you know when to seek help”.

According to the American Psychological Association, many Americans report an increase in their stress levels in 2018  when compared to the year before that. It also goes on to state that 1 in every 75 people today is suffering from panic disorders, making it important to recognize its first symptoms.

A well-dressed woman looking stressed and holding her forehead

Stress at work is common and can lead to burnout, which is linked with depression and anxiety. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Symptoms of Stress

There are many different symptoms of stress, ranging from emotional, mental, and behavioral to physical and cognitive symptoms. Let us take a look at them below.

Physical Symptoms

  • Stomach related issues like diarrhea or constipation
  • Feelings of nausea or dizziness
  • Low immunity leading to frequent bouts of cough or cold
  • Pain in the back, chest, shoulder, arm, and more
  • Heart palpitations
  • Low energy levels
  • Sleep disturbance or insomnia
  • Teeth grinding
  • Loss of sexual desire

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Loss of memory or forgetfulness
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Pessimistic approach to life

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feelings of anger and worthlessness
  • Anxiety or racing thoughts
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation or avoiding people or social interactions

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Losing or increasing appetite
  • Procrastinating
  • Smoking, consumption of alcohol, and/or drug abuse
  • Nervous habits like nail biting and fidgeting

If your symptoms don’t go away on their own with time or seem to be getting aggressive, consider consulting a medical professional or psychiatrist.

What Causes Stress?

According to a report published by the American Institute of Stress in 2017, the 5 most common causes of stress in the United States include the following:

  • 63 percent of the total population stresses about the future of the nation
  • 62 percent of the total population stresses about workplace problems
  • 61 percent of the total population worries about financial problems
  • 57 percent of the total population stresses over the country’s political climate
  • 51 percent of the total population about violence and crime

Other causes of stress across nations include the following:

  • Health issues
  • Media overload
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poor food and nutrition habits
  • Bad memories
  • General anxiety
  • Difficult relationships
  • Major life changes
  • Marriage/divorce
  • Retirement

There are many more events that can cause stress in your life; besides it is not necessary that what may be a stressful situation for one may also be a stressful situation for another. The way one reacts or perceives a situation/event is one of the major determining factors of stress and it may vary from person to person. You can also take the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory assessment to know how stressed or not stressed you are.

How to Cope with Stress?

There are many small changes you can make that can help reduce the overall stress levels in your life. Let us take a look at them below.

A family of three running on grass with a little girl sitting on a shoulder with a kite in her hand

Family time may help you relax your mind and give you a sense of security. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Taking a walk
  • Listening to atmospheric (or your favorite) music
  • Talking to a close friend/sibling about any lingering issues
  • Adopting healthy eating habits
  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Getting rest
  • Meditating for 15 to 20 minutes every day
  • Laughing a lot
  • Getting a pet
  • Spending more time with family and friends
  • Exercising and getting your endorphins pumping

Other important mention would be to let go of things that you cannot change, which may, at first, sound difficult but can be achieved through patience. You can start by decluttering your space in order to declutter your mind. You should also try unplugging yourself from the daily grind and go on a relaxing and a self-enhancing holiday. In other words, sometimes it’s okay to take a break and focus on your mental health.

To sum it up, quoting Gandhi, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”. And with that wishing you a happy and healthy lifestyle – one that minimizes your stress levels and maximizes your dopamine levels!

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About the Author

Vanya Sharma is a writer at heart with interests in the health and nutrition domain and has experience in content creation, collaboration, and content strategy. Vanya has completed the “Introduction to Food and Health” certificate program from Stanford University, US. She aims to bring unbiased and helpful information to all those seeking to make their health and lifestyle a priority.

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