Stress Awareness Month – April 2023
April marks the start of National Stress Awareness Month in the UK, and it’s an important time to focus on the impact of stress on our daily lives.
The past few years have been particularly challenging, and it’s essential to raise awareness of the importance of managing stress and prioritising mental health.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern-day stress epidemic. It is the time when we have an opportunity for an open conversation on the impact of stress. Dedicated time to removing the guilt, shame, and stigma around mental health. To talk about stress, and its effects and open up about our mental and emotional state with friends, families, colleagues, and professionals.
‘Fight or Flight?’
Under stress, our body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, which releases hormones, such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol to prepare the body for physical action.
This can have a reaction on your muscles and bodily functions, such as digestion.
The fight or flight mode is helpful to manage dangerous situations but can also affect our brain function because when blood is only flowing to important muscles needed to react to the situation, the brain function is minimised.
The ‘Fight’ mode is triggered by our survival instinct – to warn off predators but can also negatively affect relationships and ruin reputations if used in unnecessary situations.
‘Flight’, by contrast, is also a survival instinct – removing yourself from the situation or away from the person causing the stress. This can save your life but can also leave you not actually facing an ongoing issue that causes the stress that isn’t going away.
Some, when stressed, will lock the energy into the nervous system and simply “freeze”. This is often highlighted by holding your breath or by shallow breathing.
Whatever your reaction, stress can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health, affecting everything from our immune system to our relationships with others. It’s something that everyone experiences at one point or another, but it’s essential to understand the different types of stress and how to manage them effectively.
Acute & Chronic Stress
One type of stress is acute stress, which is short-term and can be caused by specific events or situations. This could include a work deadline, an important exam, or a family emergency. Acute stress is a natural response to a challenging situation, and in some cases, it can even be beneficial, helping us to stay focused and motivated.
Chronic Stress is a more prolonged and ongoing type of stress that can be caused by factors such as financial worries, a demanding job, or relationship issues. Chronic stress can have a significant impact on our mental and physical health, contributing to conditions such as anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure.
What Can I do To Prevent or Ease Stress?
During National Stress Awareness Month, you could try focusing on effective stress management techniques.
This might include practising mindfulness and meditation, engaging in regular exercise, and taking time for hobbies and relaxation.
Simple changes such as eating for well-being, not being a slave to Tech, learning to say No, practising deep breathing and staying hydrated can also be really effective.
Prioritising good sleep habits can make a difference, as poor sleep can significantly impact our stress levels.
What Employers Can Do
Employers have a crucial role to play in stress management, and workplaces should prioritise creating a positive and supportive environment for their employees.
This could include offering mental health resources and support, providing opportunities for regular breaks and flexible working arrangements, and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
By prioritising our mental health and taking proactive steps to manage stress, we can improve our overall well-being and lead happier and healthier lives.
Nicki SmithKFA Connect – Sales & Marketing Manager
5th April 2023
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