April Is National Stress Awareness Month; Here’s What You Should Know about Stress

stressed women with her head in her hands

April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to recognize the severity of intense stress and how it can impact the mind, body, and soul. During Stress Awareness Month, it’s important to reflect on what stressors we are experiencing and the impact that stress can have on our lives, both mentally and physically. Read on for resources on stress management techniques and how to offset the effects of stress for improved overall well-being.


Stress and Its Effects on the Mind, Body, and Soul

While stress is a normal part of our lives, it’s crucial to understand how it affects us and learn effective ways to manage it. Prolonged higher levels of stress (often referred to as chronic stress) can be overwhelming and detrimental to our mental and overall health. Lower levels (or, acute stress) are more digestible for the mind and body. Acute stress is more day-to-day items that add a level of pressure temporarily, like bad traffic or a pop quiz for students. Smaller stressors like these can be expected as a part of our human experience, and often the body’s “fight or flight” adrenal response helps us to perform well in these stressful situations.

However, ongoing life stressors can pile up quickly, be difficult to manage, and become overwhelming. Then, mental and physical health begins to suffer. Someone who is chronically stressed may be unable to focus or remember things, or their mind may feel foggy. Someone who operates well under chronic stress may not fully realize the amount of pressure they are under until it begins to affect their physical health. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic or ongoing stress can lead to serious mental and physical health issues, like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle Tension and Pain
  • Heart Disease, Heart Attack, High Blood Pressure, and Stroke

These issues develop for someone under constant stress, due to the body’s reaction. The brain and body alarm your adrenal and nervous systems to release a hormone called cortisol that increases your heart rate and blood pressure, while also releasing sugar into your blood. This creates that “adrenaline rush” sensation some people feel when public speaking or doing different daring or stressful activities.

While adrenaline and cortisol rushes may feel good, prolonged high cortisol levels can negatively impact your immune system, digestive system, and reproductive system, and can even affect growth for teens and adolescents. In most cases, once the catalyst causing stress on the mind or body passes, the body lowers cortisol and adrenaline levels and regulates normally again. However, for someone who experiences constant stressors, this natural brain and body response can end up doing damage long-term. This is why it is vital to be able to identify common stressors and learn how to manage them.


Common Stressors

By knowing the most common stressors locally and beyond, it’s easier to identify what may be causing stress in your own life. In fact, with the ongoing pandemic and news of continual tragic current events, research has confirmed the United States as a whole has been experiencing higher levels of stress than usual. According to recent research, the top stressors are:

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic and its Effects
  • Violence and Crime
  • Work (or Lack of Work)
  • School-Related Stressors (Applying for College/Continued Education, Exams, Requirements, Grades)
  • Income or Money-related items (Cost of Living/Finances/Debt)
  • Home Upkeep (Mortgage Payments, Repairs, Weekly Shopping, Cooking, Cleaning)
  • Family Relations
  • Romantic Relations
  • Friendships
  • The Current State of the Economy or Politics
  • Climate Change and Other Current Events
  • Current State of Personal Physical or Mental Health
  • Chronic Illnesses or Unexpected Health Difficulties
  • Caretaking


Common Symptoms of Stress

Another way to help yourself identify your stress levels is by knowing their physical and mental symptoms. Often, people do not realize their physical ailments may be tied to their mental state.

Here are the most common symptoms to be on the lookout for:

Emotional Symptoms: Physical Symptoms: Behavioral Symptoms:
Irritability Digestive problems


Changes in appetite or eating habits
Constant worry Headaches Using avoidance tactics, like procrastination
Forgetfulness Sleep problems Increased use of substances like drugs or alcohol to cope
Inability to focus Weight gain or loss


Habits like nail biting, fidgeting and inability to sit still
Mental fog Low energy Menstrual problems
Feeling Depressed Aches, pains, or muscle tension Skin and hair problems
Feeling unmotivated High heart rate Exercising less and/or napping more
Fatigue Clenched jaw or grinding of the teeth Avoiding spending time with others
  Frequent colds or signs of a weakened immune system  
  Trembles, ringing in the ears, and/or cold or clammy hands or feet  


How to Combat Becoming Overwhelmed with Stress

If you are struggling with one or more symptoms of stress, there are active steps you can take to offset its effects in your life with proper management techniques. The easiest stress management technique is to focus on the aspects of your life you can control, such as your schedule or how you spend your time. Some things like work events or required school functions, you may not have much control over attending; however, you can control your free time. If you tend to say yes, or over-commit yourself, do your best to practice minimizing your commitments, and maximizing your free time to take care of yourself. If you feel as if an empty calendar stresses you out just as much as a full one does, it could be helpful to schedule time for yourself. For example, enter in time for a movie night with friends or family, or even yourself if your social battery is drained. Scheduling intentional rest time, days off, or just time to do what you enjoy will help your mind and body recharge and decompress from stress.

Try These Simple Stress Management Techniques:

  • Breathing exercises or meditation
  • Regular light exercise like yoga or walking in nature
  • Watching a movie or reading a book
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Spend time engaging in one of your hobbies
  • Utilize creative outlets like art-making, making or playing music, or building something
  • Journaling about what is causing stress or your thoughts and emotions
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • Self-care


Some Stress in Life Is Unavoidable, but Manageable with Support

Life can be difficult; it’s full of seasons of love and loss, fast pace and slow pace, great joy, and unbearable sorrow. Unexpected or uncontrollable stressful life events can leave someone unsure of where to turn for support. A 2023 survey conducted by The American Psychological Association, showed that 36% of adults don’t know where to start when it comes to managing their stress, and 33% said they feel completely stressed out no matter what they do to manage their stress.

If you resonate with this, the best step would be to reach out for professional guidance. Getting support from a licensed counselor or therapist will help you process your stress in a healthy way, learn more in-depth stress management techniques, and equip you to be more adaptive and resilient to current and future stressors. The American Psychological Association confirms that “Coping with long-term stress requires a different set of skills than adjusting to temporary stressors.” The best way to obtain that skill set is to get guidance from a mental health professional. Always reach out for help when you feel too stressed to know what to do.


SunCloud Health Can Help

If you are ready to seek professional support for your stress, we can help. The experts at SunCloud Health are here to help you identify the root causes of your stress and empower you to learn how to cope and overcome it. As a leader in the treatment of mental health disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders, we have the facilities and the multi-disciplinary teams to meet your needs. We have various levels of care and an admission staff that can recommend which level is best for you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, remember you are not alone.

Reach out today for support.

Call (844) 576-0279 or contact us online: https://suncloudhealth.com/contact-us