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International Stress Awareness Day

Did you know that over 75% of adults in the US report experiencing moderate to high stress levels, according to the American Psychological Association? For many, the holiday season and winter can bring on even more work and financial stressors.

International Stress Awareness Day is about recognizing that we all experience pressure in many forms, but when the mental load becomes overwhelming, it can become harmful to your psychological health. Being able to identify this point is key to having strong mental health. Although not all stress is bad, described simply, stress is what happens when demand exceeds capacity.

Spending time outdoors and prioritizing movement can help reduce stress and anxiety.

What You Can Do

This November, the Harbin Clinic Psychology team gives some quick tips for International Stress Awareness Day. First, start by identifying your stress triggers. Name the things or experiences that push you over the edge. When you have those identified, you are more likely to anticipate your response in those situations and come up with solutions ahead of time.

Next, refrain from trying to control the things you cannot change. We often add to our mental load with looping thoughts about situations in the world that we cannot do anything about. Know your limit. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in your time and day, and while planning out your time, identify the worries that are out of your control and let them go.

If you or your loved ones begin experiencing something beyond traditional stress, seek help. For nearly 15 million adults in the United States, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has an onset in the fall or winter. In the spring, those suffering from SAD often see spontaneous remission of symptoms. But the symptoms can be disabling for many. The American Psychological Association lists symptoms including fatigue, pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, sleep difficulty, or excessive sleeping, craving and eating more starches and sweets, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair, and thoughts of suicide.

Finally, here are a few research-based steps to prioritize and reduce depression and stress over the winter months ahead:

  • Get more sunshine
  • Eat healthily
  • Prioritize exercise
  • Spend time with others

Dr. Jason Dunn, Dr. Frank Harbin, and Eamon Dowling, LCSW with Harbin Clinic Psychology, are committed to helping their patients and the community better understand mental health and build emotional resilience. As the days get shorter, don’t be kept in the dark about stress and seasonal mental health concerns. Make a plan and know when to reach out for help.

Published November 1, 2023

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