Stress Awareness Month: how stress impacts your work, relationships, and health

April is National Stress Awareness Month.

(WECT) - April is National Stress Awareness Month.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, over 70% of adults have felt so stressed in the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Millions of people experience high levels of stress and don’t realize how damaging it is to their health.

Holly Konrady is the Stress Management Specialist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Heart Center.

“Stress tension between a human and their environment," says Konrady. "Therefore, how I perceive things is going to be different than the way you would perceive things so what’s stressful to me, may not be to you.”

Some factors that can play a role in your stress levels:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Relationships
  • Work

According to a 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association, most people stress about the future, money, and work.

2017 stress stats. (source: The American Institute of Stress)
2017 stress stats. (source: The American Institute of Stress)

Stress is a big factor in a lot of mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Stress is also linked to physical issues like heart disease, digestive issues and insomnia.

“Just the stress itself can cause greater chronic disease.,” says Konrady. “A lot of people don’t even realize that they’re stressed because they’ve been feeling that for a very long time.”

If you’re unsure if you’re stressed here are some common signs and symptoms of stress:

  • Insomnia
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Frequently ill
  • Stomach pain

To help your stress levels, it’s important to find ways to cope with it.

“It’s not something that many people have learned to do is to manage their stress,” says Konrady. “They don’t feel like they have an opportunity to do that. They feel like it’s just a part of life. You don’t have to be stressed or don’t have to feel that stress. Again, it’s your perception of things.”

Here are some ways to deal with stress:

  • Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  • Eat at least one hot meal a day and get a lot of fresh, nutrient rich foods in.
  • Practice deep breathing. Breathing exercises can help you relax.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Work in regular exercise.
  • Try to think more positively, even in stressful or negative situations.
  • Take frequent breaks from smart devices.

Be sure to look after yourself and recognize the signs your body is telling you when you’re stressed.

To find out your stress level, you can take a quiz.

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