National Stress Awareness Day (NASD) is on every first Wednesday in November and was founded by Carole Spiers, a chairperson of the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), which is a registered charity promoting knowledge about stress, best practices for stress management, well-being, and performance. This day is about recognizing that it is not worth stressing over situations that you cannot control. Stress Awareness day is a time to take a moment and reflect on all the stressors of the modern world, understand their impact, and to learn ways to mitigate the damage that stress can make.

Last year, 74% of people felt so stressed that they couldn’t cope. Some statistics show that more than 100,000 Americans die due to work-related stress. Stress is your body’s normal reaction to pressure or threats to well-being, sometimes called the “fight or flight” response. By design, this was an adaptive mechanism to help the brain respond well to danger. Once the response is triggered, your body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which may impact physical symptoms and can lead to anxiety attacks if left untreated. Once the threat has passed, your stress hormones usually return back to baseline.

Stress has a certain purpose in our biology and can be useful as a motivator to take action and get something done. However, today’s world has brought on a surplus of stressful events. The stress response can be activated even when there isn’t imminent danger. Chronic stress can lead to impaired cognitive and physiological functions; it can seriously affect our health. Constant stress may cause physical symptoms like headaches, stomach pain, high blood pressure, and chest pain. It can also precipitate emotional problems like depression, anxiety, or panic stacks. It can even be felt as a tightening of the muscles, dizziness, and dry mouth.

NASD Timeline:

  • 1936: Hans Selye credited with coining the psychological concept of “stress”
  • 1951: There is a first ever major annual report on stress
  • 1992: April is designated as Stress Awareness Month in the UK
  • 1998: First Stress Awareness Day is celebrated in November in the USA
  • 2018: Stress Awareness Week is celebrated, which coincides with and surrounds National Stress Awareness Day

All of us experience stress, but failure to deal with it for a long time can lead to long-lasting aftereffects and life-threatening problems. Learning ways to cope and deal with challenging situations can help reduce the damaging effects of chronic stress. Here are some of the ways that you can observe this day and work on reducing your stress:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises
  • Meditate
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Journal or talk about feelings
  • Treat yourself
  • Get enough rest
  • Contemplate your stress-points
  • Allow yourself a day – or a weekend – to not worry!