Stress Awareness Month is dedicated to educating the public on the effects of stress from one’s physical and mental health. Acknowledged each April, Stress Awareness Month encourages people to focus on their mental health and developing stress management skills for enriching your life. April 16th is Stress Awareness Day, which is specifically designated toward taking steps toward reducing stress and its impact on one’s physical and mental health.
Stress is the body’s natural response to threats or demands for action. This psychosomatic reaction can be triggered by any number of physical or mental stimulants ranging from life-threatening crises to worry about being punctual to a job interview.
The body’s stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response, releases hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, heightening senses and awareness, and providing the surge of energy necessary for prompt action.
For some, stress can cause extreme and prolonged effects. Stress disorders are defined as an atypical response to physical, mental, or emotional stress. The most commonly recognized stress disorder is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can occur among survivors of traumatic events such as child abuse, sexual and/or physical assault, and combat situations. Symptoms of PTSD include hyper-vigilance, severe anxiety and paranoia, and flashbacks.
Acute Stress Disorder is also a disorder caused by stressful events, sometimes leading to the development of PTSD. The primary difference between ASD and PTSD is the duration: Acute Stress Disorder typically happens immediately following the triggering event with symptoms lasting between 3 and 30 days.
For people in recovery, stress management is vital to maintaining sobriety. Rather one suffers from a stress disorder or not, stress is a common trigger for relapse, causing one to fall back on old, harmful coping mechanisms. By learning to recognize and mitigate the causes of stress in your life, anyone can benefit from these tips for de-stressing without drugs or alcohol.