Image of Stress Awareness Month 2023

Stress Awareness Month 2023

What is Stress Awareness Month 2023?

Since its first appearance in 1992, Stress Awareness Month has been held every April to highlight the prevalence of stress and related illnesses in society. Despite mental health becoming more widely discussed in recent years, organisations such as the Stress Management Society believe that the symbiotic relationship between mental and physical health is still not talked about often enough.

As our lives become increasingly busy, and our mental resilience is tested by factors beyond our control, such as the cost of living and global events, we are more likely to suffer from stress-related illnesses. These illnesses could manifest physically in the form of heart disease, digestive issues and difficulty sleeping. In other instances, stress can lead to serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

It is the mission of Stress Awareness Month 2023 to emphasise the links between our mental and physical wellbeing, and demonstrate the need for people to be aware of stress-increasing factors and what they can do to mitigate the effects of stress.

The Stress Management Society sees the month as an opportunity to ‘empower and inspire people into action’. As such, they are promoting a 30-day challenge to encourage people to take part in at least one activity a day to look after their mental or physical health throughout the month of April. At National Online Safety, we’ve joined in with this challenge and have produced a selection of prompts to help you on your way.

It's worth nothing that while Stress Awareness Month 2023 is taking place in April in the UK, for the United States’ version of the event, the designated month is November.

What is stress?

Stress impacts pretty much every aspect of our lives and despite what you might think, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing! A healthy, good amount of stress can help improve our focus and alert us to potential dangers. However, being under stress for longer periods of time isn’t sustainable and can lead to health complications and illness.

When we experience stress, our bodies go through a series of reactions. Extra blood is diverted to our muscles, hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline are released, and the body may shut down functions it deems less important in that instance, such as digestion. Though these changes improve our chances of survival when confronted with immediate danger, prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can increase blood pressure. As the muscles in our bodies receive more blood under stress, our brains receive less, causing decision-making to be difficult and clouding judgement.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways in which we can try and protect ourselves from the effects of stress, and which Stress Awareness Week 2023 looks to promote. Simple activities such as staying hydrated, practising deep breathing, developing effective sleep routines and eating well can all help to reduce stress. Some people also find that community talk groups and workshops can help alleviate their stress levels, and help them develop tools and techniques to better manage their mental health.

How can we celebrate Stress Awareness Month 2023?

One of the main goals of Stress Awareness Month 2023 is to encourage people to speak honestly and openly about the stress they face in their lives, and raise awareness of just how common stress is. Topics that it might be useful to discuss with people include the things that cause us stress and the coping mechanisms that we use to look after ourselves. Discussion can help reduce stigma and encourage people to seek out help when they are struggling.

Furthermore, it’s vital that we all feel able to make time for ourselves to switch off and enjoy doing the things that make us happy. Engaging with hobbies is a fantastic way to refocus our minds on something different and regulate our emotions. Taking part in relaxing activities we enjoy can reduce stress and give our minds and bodies much-needed time to recuperate.

If you’d like to find out more about stress and how you can work to improve your relationship with stress, the Stress Management’s Society collection of free resources includes posters, checklists and a daily planner to encourage mindfulness.

How can I be more aware of stress?

Did you know that between 2021 and 2022, the UK lost around 17 million working days to work-related stress, anxiety and depression? In order to remain healthy, happy and productive, it’s vitally important you learn to recognise the signs of stress and support your own mental wellbeing.

Delivered by Anna Bateman, a mental health and wellbeing expert, our Essential CPD course, a certificate in stress awareness, will provide you with the knowledge and awareness to recognise the symptoms of stress, develop a level of self-awareness and build your own stress management strategies.

This course also acknowledges how stress can impact performance in the workplace and thusly how effective stress management is beneficial not only to staff, but to pupil outcomes too.

Do children get stressed?

Children and young people experience stress and anxiety just like adults. That’s why we’ve produced a course to help you earn a certificate in understanding anxiety and stress in children and young people.

Anxiety and stress are very often linked. If addressed at an early stage, it can often reduce the impact in later years and lead to better outcomes in the future. All staff have a responsibility to look after the mental health and wellbeing of children, and should have the necessary training to identify and respond to the warning signs of anxiety and stress.

Developed by Anna Bateman, mental health and wellbeing expert who works in an advisory role for the DfE, this essential CPD course provides you with the knowledge and skills to identify, respond to and develop preventative strategies around anxiety and stress to support children and young people.