Stress Awareness Month
April is Stress Awareness Month! This observance is a national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society. While Stress Awareness Month has been an ongoing campaign of awareness and education since 1992, the last few campaigns have been increasingly important with this year’s quite possibly being the most important yet.
Stress in America
In 2020, the American Psychological Association (APA) Stress in AmericaTM survey found that COVID-19 had led to an unprecedented level of stress among Americans. This led the APA to “sound the alarm” and announce that we are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.
Fast forward to 2022, COVID-19, its variants and the lingering effects of the pandemic have not allowed Americans’ stress levels to improve. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that stress levels have remained the same since last year, with the average American rating their stress level as a 5.0 on a 10.0 scale. This prolonged state of heightened stress levels is beginning to take its toll. In the APA’s most recent survey, Stress in AmericaTM 2021: Stress and Decision-Making during the Pandemic, it was discovered that 32% Americans said sometimes they are so stressed about the coronavirus pandemic that they struggle to make even basic decisions (e.g., what to wear, what to eat, etc.). In addition, the survey found that nearly 63% of adults agreed that uncertainty about what the next few months will be like causes them stress, 49% say that the coronavirus pandemic makes planning for their future feel impossible, and more than one-third said it has been more stressful to make both day-to-day decisions and major life decisions compared to before the coronavirus pandemic.
Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer explains that the pandemic has led to constant risk assessment by many Americans. Ever-changing pandemic life disrupts daily routines and even the most simple tasks now require additional preparation and planning. Evans states that “sustaining a heightened degree of vigilance inevitably wears on one’s mental health. And operating amid so much uncertainty compounds the general state of mental exhaustion being felt by so many right now, especially young adults and parents.”
That is why stress management is critical right now. The Stress Management Society has suggested using Stress Awareness Month as a 30 Day Challenge in stress management. Each day, choose one action to carry out that benefits your physical, emotional or mental well-being. It takes 30 days to build a solid new habit, so this month is the perfect time to turn stress management techniques into positive, lasting behavior change. We will be releasing more blogs, tools and resources to help you on your stress management journey this month, so stay tuned!