National Stress Awareness Month: Prioritizing our Mental Health

April is filled with exciting days to observe and take part in. From April Fool’s Day to National Peach Cobbler Day, Good Deeds Day, Go Fly a Kite Day, and Adult Autism Awareness Day, including observance weeks such as Be Kind to Spiders Week, World Music Therapy Week, and National Public Health Week, observed April 3 to 9th. There are also observances throughout the month, such as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and National Youth Sports Safety Month. In addition to all these things, April is also National Stress Awareness Month.

Stress, and in particular, chronic stress, can alter human life.

Stress can play out in different ways for different people, and can impact the human body. We must find ways to manage our stress and prevent it from taking a toll on our well-being.

Considering your mental well-being is important because when you feel overwhelmed with life, it can make it almost impossible to take part in the things that bring you joy. Our work environments are essential and also play a part in contributing to mental health. In the movie Horrible Bosses, a group of friends are subjected to poor leadership within their various workspaces. They aim to take down their bosses because they believe their lives have been made miserable in the daily workspace because of them. While that movie is a fictional comedy, in real life, some individuals feel trapped in dysfunctional work environments. When mental health is a priority for employees, productivity is the best outcome. Prioritizing mental health for employees can provide solution-driven environments and result in each employee reaching their highest potential.

According to the World Health Organization, the costs related to poor mental health in the workplace are in the billions of dollars and can mostly be attributed to lost productivity. Some companies now offer mental health days for employees to use at their leisure. When you experience mental health challenges in the workplace, it can result in negative results for what you are attempting to accomplish; it could result in more mistakes or even low morale. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if companies want to retain employees, considering policies and programs that support mental health is a step in a positive direction for retention. 

The bottom line is that leaders are responsible for providing safe, healthy, and thriving environments for their employees.

They may also provide resources that can assist employees with mental health support options. Employers can provide policies and establish social norms that support the well-being of all employees, and individuals can also take steps to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Chronic stress can lead to other issues, such as depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cause of depression is not always easy to pinpoint. It can be attributed to several factors such as environment, hereditary factors, and psychological factors. Other contributing factors can be life experiences that can be so overwhelming that it feels like no solution is obtainable. Over-consumption of alcohol and drugs are also key contributors. It is also reported that over 16 million people suffer from depression every year, and this can happen to anyone.

Remember, when you are stressed, the body releases the chemicals cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and if you feel stressed for days, imagine how your body is reacting and managing the additional toxins to the body. In moments of stress, your body’s heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure rise very quickly, which may contribute to heart disease, a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, gastrointestinal issues, trouble sleeping and much more.

Here are some helpful tips you can incorporated into your daily life that may support mental health:

  • Eat a healthy diet and eliminate processed foods
  • Meditate
  • Practice Yoga
  • Laugh a lot
  • Consider therapy
  • Focus on one task at a time and one day at a time
  • Practice daily gratitude by making a note each day of the things you are grateful for
  • Get daily physical activity

This is a gentle reminder that when we meet people, we never know what they are dealing with internally. Be kind, patient, and considerate of the people you meet because you may be the reason they feel calm, appreciated, and seen.