Stress Awareness Month

This April is stress awareness month and the primary purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness for stress a very common experience and most of us will go through stress at some point in our lives. A survey conducted by forthwithlife has shown that 85% of UK adults are experiencing stress regularly. 


What is stress?

Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength. 


What are the different types of stress?

Many different things can cause stress from physical (such as fear of something dangerous) to emotional (such as worry over your family or job.) Identifying what may be causing you stress is often the first step in learning how to better deal with your stress. Some of the most common sources of stress are:


Survival Stress

You may have heard the phrase "fight or flight" before. This is a common response to danger in all people and animals. When you are afraid that someone or something may physically hurt you, your body naturally responds with a burst of energy so that you will be better able to survive the dangerous situation (fight) or escape it all together (flight). This is survival stress.


Internal Stress

Have you ever caught yourself worrying about things you can do nothing about or worrying for no reason at all? This is internal stress and it is one of the most important kinds of stress to understand and manage. Internal stress is when people make themselves stressed. This often happens when we worry about things we can't control or put ourselves in situations we know will cause us stress. Some people become addicted to the kind of hurried, tense, lifestyle that results from being under stress. They even look for stressful situations and feel stress about things that aren't stressful.


Environmental Stress

This is a response to things around you that cause stress, such as noise, crowding, and pressure from work or family. Identifying these environmental stresses and learning to avoid them or deal with them will help lower your stress level. Living in a crowded and noisy environment can also increase your risk of stress.


Fatigue and Overwork

This kind of stress builds up over a long time and can take a hard toll on your body. It can be caused by working too much or too hard at your job(s), school, or home. It can also be caused by not knowing how to manage your time well or how to take time out for rest and relaxation. This can be one of the hardest kinds of stress to avoid because many people feel this is out of their control.


Common Health Conditions Related to Stress

Heart Disease- Research suggests that they have long suspected that the stressed out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. Stress can directly cause the heart rate to increase and blood flow also causing the cholesterol and triglycerides into the blood stream. It’s also possible that stress is related to other problems an increased likelihood of smoking, alcohol and obesity increasing the heart risk. Sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious cardiac problems including heart attacks.

Asthma- Research suggests that stress can worsen asthma. If a parent has chronic stress or is exposed to smoking, or air pollution then this increases the risk of their child developing asthma.

Obesity- Excess fat in the body seems to pose greater health risks and can cause higher stress.

Diabetes- Stress can worsen diabetes in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviours, such as unhealthy eating and excessive drinking. Second, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.

Headaches- Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for headaches and/or migraines.

Depression and anxiety- Chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety

• Hair Loss

• Skin Conditions

• Erectile Dysfunction


What are the symptoms of stress?

• Feeling overwhelmed (emotional)

• Feeling irritable and wound up (emotional)

• Feeling anxious or fearful (emotional)

• Lacking in self-esteem (emotional)

• Racing thoughts (mental)

• Constant worrying (mental)

• Difficulty concentrating (mental)

• Difficulty making decisions (mental)

• Headaches (physical)

• Muscle tension or pain (physical)

• Dizziness (physical)

• Sleep problems (physical)

• Fatigue or Feeling tired all the time (physical)

• Eating too much or eating too little (physical)


How to manage stress

• Share your problems with family or friends

• Make more time for your interests and your hobbies

• Take a break or holiday

• Take some regular exercise and eat healthily

• Make sure you’re getting enough sleep


Useful Sources

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/#symptoms-of-stress

https://www.nhs.uk/tools/pages/mood-self-assessment.aspx

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/stress/#.Ws3TUS7waUk

http://www.stress.org.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

https://www.bwcharity.org.uk/mind/stress