Managing Stress During Stress Awareness Month and Beyond

April is National Stress Awareness Month. Though it’s easy to overlook or underestimate the stress’ negative impacts on our lives, managing it is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Keep reading to learn how to manage stress and the positive difference it makes in your life.  

What is Stress and What Causes It? 

Stress affects people in several different ways. The American Institute of Stress states the most common definition of stress is a “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”  

There is not a single explanation for what causes stress. However, a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association found the most common sources of stress reported among Americans were the “future of our nation” (63% of respondents mentioned), money (62%), work (61%), political climate (57%), violence/crime (51%).  

Most Common Factors 

  • Major life changes. 
  • Work, money, financial problems. 
  • Children and family issues.
  • Relationship difficulties. 
  • Feeling of losing control in life choices. 
  • Perfectionism. 
  • Inability to accept uncertainty. 

Common Symptoms of Stress 

  • Fight or flight, stress response. 
  • Depression and/or anxiety. 
  • Moodiness and irritability. 
  • Aches and pains. 
  • Frequently getting sick with a cold, etc. 
  • Nausea and chest pains. 
  • Lack of sleep. 
  • Increased use of substances or substance abuse.

Coping with Stress 

  • Take care of your body by listening to what it needs. Make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising when you can. Physical well-being directly correlates with mental well-being. 
  • Unplug from stressful triggers. Turn off the TV, set timers on social media, and identify other potential triggers. Take moments to compose yourself before going back to potentially triggering activities.  
  • Connect with loved ones and your community. Reach out to those around you for help and lean on communities that you are a part of.  
  • Practice mediation, yoga, and other stress-reducing activities. Click here to read a previous Wellness Works blog on self-care strategies to help with mental health.   
  • Limit consumption of alcohol and other substances. 
  • Know when to reach out for help. Click here to view the CDC’s list of stress and coping resources.