What's the Deal with Stress? - International Stress Awareness Day

Type the word “stress” into your Internet browser and you’ll get 755 million results. That’s a lot of information. But at this point it shouldn’t really be a surprise that stress is rampant in our modern, technology-dependent, busy-24/7 culture – and also that it causes problems for our bodies and our overall quality of life.

It takes both awareness and dedication to learn how to break deep-rooted habits that commonly contribute to stress. Although it’s normal to have some stress in life, you want to be aware of high levels of persistent stress if you don’t want negative and lasting effects on your health.


Understanding Stress

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress is an automatic response that helped protect our ancestors from predators. When faced with danger, our stress hormones are released to elevate our heart rate, increase blood pressure, boost energy and prepare us to deal with the problem.

The APA also says that modern-day causes of stress trigger the same physical response.

“These days, you're not likely to face the threat of being eaten. But you probably do confront multiple challenges every day, such as meeting deadlines, paying bills and juggling childcare that make your body react the same way. As a result, your body's natural alarm system — the “fight or flight” response — may be stuck in the on position. And that can have serious consequences for your health.”

These consequences include anxiety and depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, obesity and heart disease – to name a few.


Combatting Stress 

In 2014, Statistics Canada found that 23% of Canadians aged 15 and older (6.7 million people) reported that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Luckily there are many ways to help you bring a sense of calm and control back into your day – you just have to look for them – and International Stress Awareness Day (ISAD) on November 1, 2017 is a great place to start.

Dating back to 1998, ISAD takes place on the first Wednesday every November to help people identify and reduce the stress factors in their lives. It’s a reminder to prioritize health over everything else.

The first step is to take time to examine your life and determine your causes of stress – such as relationships, time pressure and financial stress – and start looking at the necessary steps to lessen them or remove them completely. Then turn to experts and credible resources for an action plan.


  • The Psychology Foundation of Canada, with support from Pfizer Canada, has developed Stress Strategies – a free online coaching tool to help Canadians manage life’s stress. It’s completely confidential, and when you’re done, you’ll be able to download or print your own personalized action plan.
  • On November 1, the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) is posting a Free Online Stress Summit – a series of interviews with experts from around the world to help educate, inspire and share a wide range of ideas on how to manage stress more effectively.​ You can also access ISMA’s top 10 key tips for stress-free living.
  • Get vocal and help end the stigma around stress and mental health. Talking openly about your personal experiences and listening to others share their own can really make a difference. On November 1 use the hashtags: #stressawarenessday, #internationalstressawarenessday and #INSAD2017 on social media.
  • Never underestimate the power of a healthy diet, good-quality sleep and regular exercise. The Mayo Clinic says that exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever by pumping up your endorphins and improving your mood. Physical activity is a key part of any stress management plan.


“Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens.
And response is something we can choose.”

~ Maureen Killoran

November 01, 2017 — Jill Verboven

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