Stress Awareness Month 2021
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What is Stress Awareness Month?
Stress Awareness Month is a health care initiative designed to raise public awareness of the causes and treatment of stress. Held every year throughout the month of April since 1992, Stress Awareness Month is pioneered by the Health Resource Network, a non-profit health education organisation.
(Note to readers: the above website is pitifully short on content. Just because it calls itself the ‘official’ site doesn’t mean it is so. We would expect more from an official site. We prefer the much more informative Stress Management Society’s website.)
During Stress Awareness Month, health care professionals across the country will be joining forces to educate the public about the dangers of stress and successful stress management techniques.
Throughout April 2021 stress experts and other professional bodies give away free educational materials, running community events, and hosting public forums and discussion groups. You can find out more about this year’s event at the official Stress Awareness Month homepage (which is really quite poor) and the Stress Management Society website.
The theme of the UK’s Stress Awareness Month in 2021 is ‘Regain Connection, Certainty, and Control’.
Resources for Stress Awareness Month
The Stress Management Society in the UK is hosting a 30-Day Challenge aimed at reducing stress. Based on the idea that it takes 30 days to form a new habit, the challenge encourages participants to pick one small action to carry out every day. The society’s webpage includes links to resources including calendars, checklists, guides, and achievement plans.
The Mental Health Foundation is a comprehensive resource for stress and mental health. The website includes free information about stress, including the causes of stress and tips for reducing stress and improving mental health.
The Impact of Stress
In 2018, the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of adults in the UK have felt so stressed that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope. This figure jumps to 83% in young adults (aged 18-24), with nearly one-third of adults expressing they have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of stress and 16% attempting self-harm.
And the stress epidemic is only getting worse – more recently, 65% of respondents in a survey by the Stress Management Society reported that their stress levels have increased since March 2020.
Stress can impact physical as well as mental health. In addition to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, stress has been linked to heart disease, indigestion, stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, insomnia, and immunosuppression.
Tips for Reducing Stress
Whether you plan on joining in during April or are aiming for a more sustainable way of reducing stress, there are a few simple things you can do:
- Take control. Even if you can only change something small about your situation, it’s a start
- Build relationships. If you’re feeling stressed, talk to somebody. Reach out to family, a friend, or a mental health professional
- Take care of your body. Eating healthily, getting plenty of exercise, and establishing regular sleep patterns can all help reduce stress
- Practise mindfulness. As little as ten minutes of meditation or mindfulness a day has been shown to reduce stress
- Unplug with a digital detox. Digital technology, social media, and screen time are linked to health problems, sleep disruption, and work-life imbalance. Knowing when — and how — to switch off is key to reducing stress
- Help others. It may sound counterintuitive, but studies have shown that volunteering isn’t just good for others — it can actually yourself