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Stress can be a real killer, both in the workplace and in the busy, day-to-day life of each person on earth. While stress certainly serves a solid purpose in human biology, it is also true that modern life has brought about a surplus of causes that haunt people from day-to-day. And the impact has been, for some people, rather catastrophic.

When humans are faced with a challenge, or a threat to their well-being, the body experiences stress. By design, this was a good thing to notify and equip the brain to sense and respond to danger. Now, in modern times, stress responses come on even when people aren’t necessarily in imminent danger or risking their lives.

Whether dealing with a job that puts you under tremendous pressure or facing struggles in life or relationships that leave you in a state of constant worry, stress can be a real killer. In fact, some statistics show that more than 100,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of work-related stress. And that’s only the beginning.

National Stress Awareness Day was set aside as a time to be aware of the stress in the modern world, understand its impact, and strive to mitigate the damage it can do.

History of National Stress Awareness Day

National Stress Awareness Day was established in 1998 by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) to help provide information on stress, and strategies on how to address it for both companies and individuals.

The organization is particularly focused on business relationships and reducing stress in the workplace. Their aim is to help employers and employees support each other by providing comprehensive guides to establishing a program within their organization. They also seek to assist individuals by encouraging them to look after their health and well-being on a day-to-day basis.

National Stress Awareness Day Timeline


Stress is linked to heart disease

Canadian cardiologist, Sir William Osler, suggests that the “wear and tear of life” could be a contributing factor for heart disease.[1]


The term “stress” is coined

After his university studies, Hans Selye, an Austria-born scientist, borrows the term “stress” from physics where it describes a force that puts a strain on a physical body.[2]


Hans Seyle releases important paper on stress

By the mid 1930s, Seyle studies rats and indicates that stress was the cause of death in some of his rats. He theorizes that exposure to stress can cause the body to experience “general adaptation syndrome” which causes alarm, shock and even exhaustion.[3]


The Executive Monkey Study is published

This study, performed by John W. Mason, indicates that monkeys who were under mental or psychological stress combined with hunger were less healthy than those monkeys who were only physically hungry.[4]


“Tension Control” organization is born

Founded by Dr. Edmund Jacobson and Dr. F. J. McGuigan, this organization was purposeful in understanding and educating people about the impact of stress (then called “tension”) on the health and well being of the body. The name of the organization was originally The American Association for the Advancement of Tension Control.[5]


Tension Control gets a name change

In keeping with the times and science advancement, the organization went through a couple of name changes and finally landed on the name International Stress Management Association (ISMA).[6]


Stress Awareness Month is established in UK

Taking place in April, this month does not coincide with National Stress Awareness Day, but this observance in the UK may have blaze the trail for the creation of National Stress Awareness Day in the United States.[7]


The first National Stress Awareness Day is celebrated

Started by the International Stress Awareness Management Association, this day began in the USA and happens on the first Wednesday of each November.[8]


International Stress Awareness Week

Coinciding with National Stress Awareness Day, this event surrounds the day but allows organizations and businesses more time to develop and implement their stress awareness programs. The pinnacle of the week is still on Wednesday, National Stress Awareness Day.[9]

How to Celebrate National Stress Awareness Day

Observing National Stress Awareness Day can take on all sorts of forms. From creating an individual action plan to getting involved with raising awareness on a community level, there are many great ways to get involved. Start with a few of these ideas or come up with your own:

Attend a National Stress Awareness Day Event

Understanding that one day isn’t quite enough, ISMA has begun recently to hold events all week long. In fact, 2020 marked the first-ever Global Stress & Well Being Summit held by the organization. The event was held completely online, acting as a dynamic place for participants to learn and share about their experiences with mental health, the stress in the workplace, and the well-being of employees.

The plan is for these events to occur annually, so it’s worth looking to see what types of events are available either online or in a local format.

Become More Aware of the Impact of Stress

National Stress Awareness Day is an ideal opportunity to start looking after yourself and your life, and break down the individual stressors in your life. Failure to deal with stress in your life effectively can lead to serious health problems, including increased blood pressure, susceptibility to heart disease, and a decline in the immune system.

Once a person starts experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, they can landslide into each other, resulting in growing sickness and, by extension, more stress. It’s truly a self-feeding problem and a cycle that is necessary to control to enjoy our lives. And the first step to getting out of the cycle is becoming aware of it in the first place.

Engage in Activities for Reducing Stress

Stress can’t be completely avoided in life today, but its impact can certainly be reduced or minimized. Learning to implement creative ways to reduce stress is a vital part of making the most out of life. Obviously, a doctor should be consulted if medical problems are involved, but folks who are simply looking for ways to reduce stress might try some of these activities:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises. Many times, the mind simply needs a timeout to get recentered and calm down. Deep Breathing is a great way to regain focus and get reenergized, even for just a couple of minutes in the middle of a workday.
  • Regular Exercise. One excellent way to keep stress at bay is to keep the body moving. Running, walking, bicycling, or movement activities like yoga can all be incorporated into an anti-stress lifestyle.
  • Reduce Caffeine. A healthier diet can be a huge stress-buster, and caffeine can be a significant culprit for creating anxiety. Limit the caffeine to one small serving a day to gain a noticeable difference in the amount of stress put on the body and the adrenal system.
  • Journal or Talk About Feelings. One way to cope with stress is to tell a friend or therapist about difficult things in life. Don’t have one? No worries! Journaling can sometimes be just as therapeutic as a listening ear.

Seek to Minimize the Impact of Stress

Perhaps the best way to celebrate National Stress Awareness Day is to take the opportunity to remove the stress from your life, at least for the day. Take the time to examine the various aspects of life and find out where all the stressors lie. Then make an effort to start looking into taking steps to remove them, or find ways to mitigate them so they don’t have as much power.

Removing stress from your life can start off as a stressful experience, so it can help to get assistance from organizations like ISMA to look into strategies and support in how to manage those things in your life that cause stress.

Enjoy a Day of Freedom

Whatever you choose to do, take a day off and let yourself have a day of freedom. If coping with sickness, give the body permission to heal and do something to help move the focus.

Stress can be a killer, so don’t let it take one more day from your life. Act now and start living a stress-free life!

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