INTERNATIONAL STRESS AWARENESS DAY (NOVEMBER 4)
THEME: RESILIENCE – THE POWER TO SUCCEED
The challenges of both stress and mental health are issues of importance to many of us. We need to come together and end the stigma of stress and mental health.
- 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress related ailments and complaints.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
- Long term stress can harm your health.
Causes of Stress
Stress can be caused by any type of physical or emotional stimulus or situation. There are different types of stress such as work stress or school stress, relationship stress, or parenting stress. Some other kinds of stress may be related to specific stages of life such as aging, pregnancy, the teen years, or the menopausal transition.
Despite its source, any type of stress can become unmanageable or overwhelming. The following are risk factors for uncontrollable stress:
- Social and financial problems
- Physical or mental illness
- Lack of social support networks
- Family history of stress or family discord
How Stress Affects your Body
Stress usually first affects the emotions and causes psychological symptoms. Initial symptoms may include the following feelings:
Anxiousness, nervousness, distraction, excessive worry, internal pressure, changes in sleep patterns.
These emotional states can then begin to affect a person’s outward appearance. The affected individual may seem unusually anxious or nervous, distracted, self-absorbed, and/or irritable or angry.
If stress lasts over a longer period of time, a person may begin to experience more severe emotional or even physical symptoms:
Excessive fatigue, depression, thoughts of hurting yourself or others, headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain or pressure, heart racing, dizziness or flushing, restlessness shortness of breath, hyperventilation or choking sensation
In most cases, these symptoms are very minor and don’t last very long. If they become more severe or increase in frequency and severity, seek medical help.
How to Manage Stress
If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have many health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:
- Getting regular physical activity.
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or massage.
- Keeping a sense of humor.
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music.
- Get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol, and the use of illegal substances.
When to Seek Help
If after taking these steps to control your stress yet your symptoms continue, see your doctor. You can come down to Royal Victoria Medical Centre, your healthcare provider may want to check for other potential causes. Or recommend that you see a professional counselor or therapist, who can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Also, get emergency help immediately if you experience any if these; chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, sweating, dizziness, or nausea. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptom.
 National Institute of Mental Health Organisation