April marks national Stress Awareness Month

This April will celebrate national Stress Awareness Month, which has been held annually since1992 to increase public awareness about the causes and effects of stress, and how to combat it. 

The Stress Management Society, a non-profit organisation which supports individuals and companies in recognising and reducing stress, says the theme of the year is #LittleByLittle.

This theme focuses on encouraging people to make small, manageable changes to their daily routine, in order to achieve ‘profound’ results. This can be anything from taking a few minutes when you wake to stretch and meditate, incorporating a small amount of exercise into your week or making an effort to get some fresh air each day.

The Stress Management Society has placed particular emphasis on ‘The Butterfly Effect’, coined by Edward Lorenz, to explain how a small change to one part of a complex system can affect the entire operation.

Research shows that just 9 minutes of laughter each day can significantly reduce a person’s cortisol level.

Countless studies have highlighted the fact that interaction with nature can have a notable effect on a person’s wellbeing. Interestingly, according to an article by BBC Earth, even looking out the window at green or blue spaces, or watching wildlife on television can improve your mood.

Sadly, stress is something that is normalised in this fast-paced modern society, and worse still is that it is often simply laughed off. I know that I, myself, am guilty of brushing stress off far too easily.

My partner will notice me pulling my hair out and, occasionally, rocking in the corner and ask, “everything OK?”, and I’ll respond with a smile “Oh yes, I’m fine – just stressed”.

Even when we recognise that we are suffering from stress, many of us fail to take any remedial action because we are “too busy” or we’ll “sleep when we’re dead”.

The fact is that stress doesn’t only impact you, but those around you as well. These days, particularly because I spend the majority of my time at home with a small child, I can quite literally feel my cortisol spike. In those peak moments of stress, I can guarantee that I’m no fun to be around.

Stress is linked to frustration, anger and depression – all of which impact your relationships. So, whilst it may seem like an inconvenience to take five minutes from your busy day to put your mental health first, it is truly worthwhile in the long run.

If you would like to find out more about how stress impacts us in our daily lives, and how to manage it, why not check out The Stress Management Society’s free resources? The organisation has compiled a wealth of helpful guides to combat stress, including:

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