Stress Awareness Month is a campaign of awareness and education that was instituted in 1992.
The stress referred to is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a “physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension, and may be a factor in disease causation; a state resulting from a stress, especially one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” Or, in the words of Mel Brooks, “High Anxiety”.
Stress is thought to have a protective purpose, helping the body to physically prepare to respond to danger; and to be a useful motivator. But, when caused by worry and anxiety, and when experienced long term, stress can suppress the immune system and increase susceptibility to illnesses including headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
According to the American Psychological Association, the most frequently identified sources of stress are:
- Economic outlook
None of these stressors is particularly easy to avoid, so how does one cope with them and reduce stress?
Strategies focus on care of body:
- Eat well
- Get plenty of rest
- Deep breathing
- set reasonable goals
- take time for yourself
- spend time with a friend or loved one
- distract yourself with something creative
- And…location, location, location
Mentalfloss.com states that coastal states tend to report higher levels of stress, while Midwestern states report the lowest levels.
Mental floss also includes a colorful list of de-stressors, which includes puppies and watching cartoons.
Ultimately, April is a good time to think about what causes your stress, what seems to relieve it best, and to practice whatever works best for you.