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International Stress Awareness Day 2020

04 November 2020

International Stress Awareness Day 2020

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Stress and the coronavirus

The International Stress Awareness Day, run by the International Stress Management Association, takes place on 4th November, during stress awareness week 2nd to 6th November 2020. The focus this year, unsurprisingly, considers stress and mental health issues in the age of the coronavirus, Covid-19.


Being in the middle of a pandemic presents additional problems around managing our stress levels and living with mental health issues. In June 2020 it was reported, 19.2% of adults were likely to be experiencing some kind of depression during the pandemic. This is almost double the figure reported before Covid-19, with 9.7% of adults struggling with issues in the period July 2019 to March 2020. Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way those adults felt their wellbeing was affected, with 84.9% reporting this. Further statistics can be found on https://www.ons.gov.uk


Stress responses
The stress response is our body’s unconscious “Fight-Flight” response to a threatening situation, when it is perceived there is too much pressure and we are becoming overwhelmed. There are many signs and symptoms indicating too much pressure and, as we are all individual, this can be different for each person.


Some psychological signs include:

  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Being easily distracted
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or unfocused
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Prone to accidents


Some emotional signs include:

  • Mood swings
  • Being tearful
  • Having defensive tendencies
  • Extra sensitivity to criticism
  • Feeling frustrated


There are also physical signs of stress, which can include having frequent colds/infections, weight loss or gain, tiredness, dizziness or high blood pressure.
Difference between pressure and stress


The difference between pressure and stress follows on from the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) definition that while you have, or perceive you have, the ability and resources to cope with the demands placed on you – you are subject to pressure, not stress. It is when pressure becomes excessive, and is beyond our coping ability, we experience the physical and mental signs that we are stressed.

Pressure is:

  • Exciting
  • Challenging
  • Motivational
  • Using creative potential


Stress causes:

  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings

Stress in itself is not an illness, but it can cause illness. Some ailments can be stress-induced or stress can exaggerate a pre-existing condition.

For more information and to download free stress tips and a stress questionnaire, please go to https://isma.org