The last year and a half have been taxing on all communities across the country. School closures, restrictions on businesses, job losses, and health fears are enough to make anyone feel anxious. It is difficult to manage this level of stress when so much is outside of our control. Feelings of helplessness and panic can overtake us in the middle of the night. We wonder if things will ever go back to normal again.
While we cannot control everything in the world, we can focus on what is within our control. Read ahead to learn about Stress Awareness Month and how we can celebrate it during one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. Photo Credit: Pexels
What is Stress Awareness Month?
Stress Awareness Month has been acknowledged since 1992. Its purpose is to increase public awareness of the causes and treatments for anxiety and stress-related disorders.
In the 1950s, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman developed a theory that different personality types exist. According to their research, Type A personalities tend to be perfectionistic, overachievers, worriers, and always “on the go”. These individuals struggle with stress more often than others.
1974, the International Stress and Tension Control Society was founded. Its purpose was to improve stress-related concerns in the workplace and at home. From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, research related to stress management increased. Now, health providers and clinicians across the country provide resources, specific therapies, and other treatment options for those with serious stress disorders.
Sources of Stress
A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that individuals tend to worry most about the following -
· 63% worried about the future of the country
· 62% worried about finances
· 61% worried about work
· 57% worried about the political climate
· 51% worried about crime
There is no single definition for stress. A specific event in life may act as a stressor, and our response to it creates stress. People under stress experience anger, fatigue, digestive troubles, and irritability.
It is also important to note that stress is not the same as anxiety. Typically, stress stems from a specific situation. When the situation resolves, the stress tends to resolve. Those with anxiety often feel stressed for no real reason. They have persistent body symptoms and racing thoughts that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. Over time, a simple social gathering or meeting at work can induce symptoms of anxiety and panic.
Many individuals with stress do not experience anxiety, while all individuals with anxiety experience stress. While the two terms are not the same, unresolved stress almost always leads to an anxiety disorder.
How to Practice Mindfulness This Stress Awareness Month
While we cannot remove stressors from our lives, we can choose how to react to them. Most experts recognize that our reaction is the key to whether we overcome a stressor or not. Here are some best practices –
· Recognize what situations you cannot control. When you feel yourself focusing on them, remind yourself that you cannot control them.
· Take control of your reactions by focusing on another subject. Picture a beach, nature, or anything that makes you feel calm and at ease.
· Set a list of goals for healthy living. This may include meditation, exercise, eating properly, and time management. Work daily to achieve these goals.
· Utilize positive self-talk in times of stress. If a situation is too much to handle, take a 10-minute break to calm down and re-focus.
· Get plenty of sleep. Set a sleep schedule every night and avoid electronics after a certain hour. Read a book, watch an uplifting show, or write in a journal.
· Avoid drugs and alcohol
· Speak to a therapist if stress is turning into an anxiety disorder
Do you struggle with anxiety or stress? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.