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Stress Awareness Month – What is stress?

Apr 11, 2017

For the past 25 years, April has been categorised as “Stress Awareness Month”. Originating in 1992, this time of the year is for health care experts to increase public awareness about the effects of stress and how to prevent them. But it’s not only the professionals who can speak out. We all have the opportunity to help others by sharing stories and working together to prevent all of those negative thoughts.

In collaboration with Stress Awareness Month we have created a series of blog posts throughout the month looking at stress, what causes it and how it can affect various situations, including the workplace. The first in the series looks at the foundations of stress and the different types.

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s reaction to a demanding situation. When you are under stress, biological chemicals are released into the blood causing you to feel anxious or apprehensive. This can lead to emotional and in some cases, physical trauma.

What causes stress?

There are multiple causes of stress which can often occur in different situations:

• Survival Stress

This kind of stress is caused when you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. When someone or something could physically harm you, your body reacts with a burst of energy enabling the “fight or flight” reaction.

• Internal Stress

Internal stress is caused when you find yourself worrying about something that is beyond your control. This causes an incredible amount of worry even when there’s not necessarily anything to stress about.

• Environmental Stress

The surrounding environment can often cause huge amounts of stress. This can be anything from loud noises and busy crowds, to pressures at your work or home. In some hostile countries, environmental stress is used as a form of torture. The British SAS use techniques such as blindfolds and the constant sound of crying infants to train their recruits in case of capture.

• Fatigue and Overwork

Finally we come to one of the most common stress categories. Working hard all day, every day can really take its toll on your body causing it to breakdown or make you unwell. Whether you are being overworked at home, in school or during your career, it’s important to take breaks and know your own body’s limits.

If you’re feeling as though you are suffering from stress it is important to talk to people. Talk to family and friends about how your feeling.  The charity Mind have a section dedicated to stress and what can be done.  Below we outline some simple tips to help:

• Plan your day/stay organised

• Take regular breaks

• Listen to calming/classical music

• Set yourself realistic targets

• Make a hot drink

• Stretch