April is Stress Awareness Month, and aims to raise awareness of both the causes and cures for the stress epidemic currently affecting much of society.
It has been held every April since 1992, and aims to help people with feelings of “disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control”.
The pandemic has had a terrible impact on many people’s mental health, with 74% of UK adults confirming they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
The modern stress epidemic
The pressures of lockdown, coupled with worries about work, from employees to business owners, or concerns about limited access to support for those caring for loved ones, not to mention the cost of living crisis, have combined to send our stress levels soaring.
Stress Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness about the mental health problems linked to stress, such as depression and anxiety.
It also seeks to inform people about the tools and solutions that are available for reducing stress and anxiety levels.
The physical impacts of stress
It’s not just the mental health effects of stress that can be worrying, people suffering from stress can also be at risk of physical illnesses.
It can also be linked to and an underlying contributor to serious health problems including heart disease, as well as digestive and immune system issues.
Raising public awareness about these connected factors is an important part of Stress Awareness Month.
Breaking the taboo
As with many mental health issues, anxiety can be seen as a taboo, and Stress Awareness Month aims to break down the stigma surrounding people dealing with high stress levels and focus on boosting their emotional wellbeing.
People who experience stress are expected to ‘keep calm and carry on’, rather than open up about the things that are having a negative impact on their lives, or they are losing sleep about.
What are the best ways to ease stress?
There are several resources that can help deal with and reduce feelings of stress and prevent it from spiralling into depression or ill-health, but they all begin with one crucial thing: talking about the topic openly.
Family and friends
If you’re stressed and feel as if you can’t cope, it’s important to let your family and friends know, as they may be able to help directly.
If you’re the main carer of a loved one, they could arrange to step in regularly and give you a break. It’s easy to soldier on, but don’t underestimate the importance of taking care of you.
If you don’t have any relatives to call on, we offer respite care at any time of the year.
Get out and about
There are times when life just becomes too much and, before you know it, important things like eating well and getting a good night’s sleep fall to the wayside.
Exercise can be an excellent personal stress management strategy, as it not only boosts your physical health, it can also remove you from a stressful situation.
Replace that busy workplace with a stroll in the park at lunchtime, or take your loved one out for a trip to the tea shop!
Combine it with a healthy diet and – where at all possible – restful sleep, and it will help you get back on top of things.
Avoid stressful situations
Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but part of Stress Awareness Month efforts is helping people actually recognise when they are in a stressful situation.
Many carers have to cope with so much, they don’t always realise their own challenges are making them stressed. They feel they just have to get on with it – that’s life, after all. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Stress Awareness Month is an ideal time to see causes and cures: identify which situations play a significant factor in your stress levels, determine which ones you can control and, most importantly, which you can’t.
Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol
Being anxious all the time can prompt some people to rely on damaging coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drugs.
If you’re at or nearing this point, then the most crucial thing is to talk about stress, anxiety and depression, and prevent your situation spiralling out of control.
Reach out for professional help
Although the modern stress epidemic is one of the biggest current public health challenges, it can feel as if it flies under the radar. That’s why Stress Awareness Month bangs the drum for professionals looking to help.
From your GP to organisations such as the Stress Management Society, there is a wide range of professional, mental health support out there to help people who are stressed.
You can talk to your GP or other experts, be enrolled in support programmes that will boost your personal growth or even take on tasks that will lift your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Stress-busting support at Age Care Advice
We understand the stresses and strains that come with caring for a loved one, whether it’s an elderly parent or a vulnerable young adult.
Our Carers and Companions offer tailored support and respite care, as and when you and your loved one need it, allowing you to focus on personal care, so your loved one gets the best of you.