Lots of factors can cause stress, from minor inconveniences to major life events. International Stress Awareness Week – which runs from Nov. 7 through Nov. 11 this year – reminds us that it’s important to be aware of stress and healthy ways to handle it. Here’s an introduction to International Stress Awareness Week plus five tips for managing stress.
What Is International Stress Awareness Week?
The International Stress Management Association began hosting International Stress Awareness Week in 2018 to raise awareness around stress prevention and management and to fight the stigma associated with stress and mental health struggles. The week is a great time to learn more about stress, how it impacts your mental and physical health, and what you can do to better handle stress.
Why Is Stress Management Important?
Experiencing stress for an extended period of time can contribute to health issues, including heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, and obesity. Long-term stress exposes your brain to the hormone cortisol, which weakens your immune system and puts you at greater risk of getting sick.[i] Stress can also make symptoms of existing mental illness worse, including triggering mania and depression in people with bipolar disorder and encouraging delusions and hallucinations in people with schizophrenia.[ii]
Managing and preventing long-term stress is important for reducing your risk of developing these health conditions.[iii] Stress management can also improve your sleep, improve your mood, reduce muscle tension, help you have healthy relationships with family and friends, support weight control, help you focus better, and more.[iv][v]
Tips For Managing Stress
There are many steps you can take to help you cope with stress in a healthy way. The key is to find what works for you and make it part of your routine.
1. Know the Signs of Stress
Stress can cause physical symptoms like headaches, jaw pain, and changes in appetite. It can also cause difficulty sleeping, mood swings, a sense of overwhelm, and make it hard to concentrate.[vi]
2. Know What Causes Stress
Common causes of stress include having a lot to do in a short amount of time, running late, arguments, money issues, long-term illness, having problems at home or at work, dealing with the death of a loved one, and more.[vii] Identifying what causes you stress can help you better cope with the stressors in your life.[viii]
3. Find a Calming Activity
Spend time doing something that relaxes you. This will be different for everyone, but may include activities like meditation, yoga, listening to music, spending time in nature, or practicing mindfulness.[ix]
4. Form Healthy Habits
Get enough sleep every night, exercise regularly, and eat healthy meals. Avoid drugs and alcohol, which can increase your stress levels.[x]
5. Ask For Help
You never have to manage stress alone. Talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling. If you feel overwhelmed or are having thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harm to others, talk to a mental health professional.[xi] If you live in Phoenix or Tucson, click here to find a Connections facility near you.
Learn More About Stress Management
We’ll be sharing resources for managing stress, so keep an eye on the Connections Health Solutions website.