National Stress Awareness Month

National Stress Awareness Month

Nichelle Haynes, DO

As a perinatal psychiatrist, I've witnessed firsthand the profound impact that stress can have on mental health, especially within the context of pregnancy and the postpartum period. With April marking National Stress Awareness Month, it's an opportune time to shine a light on this often-overlooked aspect of wellness: stress.

It's important to recognize that experiencing stress is not a sign of weakness or failure. Rather, it's a natural response to challenging circumstances.

Stress is an inherent part of modern life, affecting individuals from all walks of life. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 80% of adults report experiencing stress at levels that impact their physical and mental health. The effects of stress can be seen in numerous studies that highlight the impact it can have on our cardiovascular health, immune health, overall wellbeing and mental health.

I want to make a point to discuss different kinds of stress. There is the stress related to our own personal choices or modifiable factors in our lives and the stress inherent in the American experience and minority or marginalized community experience. Factors such as socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, race, being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and social support networks that can influence the level of stress individuals experience and there is a responsibility we all have to each other to improve these issues as a community.

Given the significant impact of prolonged stress on our health, it's essential to prioritize proactive self-care strategies and seek support when needed. This can include engaging in stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness meditation, exercise, spending time in nature, and engaging in hobbies or creative pursuits. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep, nutrition, and social support can help buffer the effects of stress on our mental health.

Furthermore, seeking support from mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychiatrists, can provide valuable tools and strategies for coping with stress and building resilience. Therapy offers a safe and supportive space to explore and address the underlying causes of stress, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and learn effective stress management techniques.

By recognizing the importance of proactive self-care and seeking support when needed, we empower ourselves to better navigate life's challenges and safeguard our mental and physical well-being. Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and there are resources and support systems available to assist you on your journey to greater resilience and wellness.

During National Stress Awareness Month and beyond, let's continue to destigmatize conversations around mental health and prioritize self-care. By raising awareness and fostering understanding, we can create a more supportive and resilient community for all individuals, regardless of their stage of life.

Remember, you are not alone, and support is available. If you or someone you know is struggling with stress or mental health concerns, don't hesitate to reach out for help by calling us at (512) 982-4116. Together, we can navigate life's challenges and cultivate greater well-being for ourselves and those around us.