The American Counseling Association (www.counseling.org) has dedicated the Month of April as Stress Awareness Month.
What is stress? Stress is both a good thing and a not so good thing. On the good side, we need stress to motivate us, it keeps us moving forward. On the bad side, however, too much stress can be detrimental to our health.
When discussing the negative side of it, stress can be classified as acute (which means lasting hours), subacute (which means lasting a couple days), or chronic (which means lasting weeks or longer). In addition, within each classification, stress can also vary by degree, or intensity. While all stress affects our immune system, chronic stress, in particular, regardless of the degree, can lead to long-term health complications.
Regarding the sources of stress, depending on which report you cite, people report different things. For example, in 2019, the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) reported that mass shootings and healthcare were the two highest stressors in the nation, while in the same year, the American Institute of Stress (www.stress.org) reported that work was the single largest stressor in the nation. This discrepancy supports the idea that different stressors affect people differently.
Americans are often reported as more stressed than the rest of the world. The American Institute of Stress reports that 55% of Americans feel some type of stress at some point during the day, which is 20% higher than the world average. In addition, according to the American Psychological Institute, there are increased reports of stress among younger generations than previous generations were at the same age. For example, 5.8% of generation Z has reported experiencing stress while older generations have reported experiencing stress at statistically significant lower rates. For these reasons, it is important to talk about stress and I will use Stress Awareness month to do so. In my next post, I will talk about some of the consequences of constant stress.