Get ready to exhale: Stress Awareness Week is coming up on 2-6 November 2020. Seize these five days to stew on what stresses you out and how it lands in your life. Stress can creep up on you – boo! But calling it out can sometimes come with a side order of stigma. This week, open your peepers to how being well and calm generally means a better you, and healthier businesses too. Are you wearing your badge of busyness as validation? It’s time to unpin it before it turns toxic.

Think about facing off with a bear without your stress response: not pretty. When reacting to events that threaten or upend balance, your body naturally kicks in with fight-or-flight. Despite the thumbs-down wrap stress gets, it can also be your body’s way of protecting you. Yes, there’s harmful stress, but there’s also the right kind of stress that sharpens focus and centres you. When negative stress takes over – that’s when stress goes bad. Stressed people behind the wheel or in an argument are not great combos. This is a silent scourge that can put a whopping dent in your wellbeing.

Stress can strike when you ask too much of your mind and body. We can all stand a healthy amount of stress. But when noxious stress overwhelms, it can cause mental health issues, emotional burnout and sickness. When it shows up in your relationship, your workplace and your family interactions – it’s often problematic.

Good stress is just a human thing. The truth is – you probably won't notice your tension until you’re already feeling chaotic. Destructive stress can skulk into your emotional life, cause and inflame your gut, keep you from getting quality zzzzz’s, make you depressed or anxious, throw-off your eating, play havoc with your skin and agitate autoimmune problems.

So how much stress is too much? Only you can say, so tune in and find out. Can you successfully navigate high levels of stress, or do you sink under low-stress levels? Know your triggers. Is it work, internal or life circumstances like parenting or social situations that set it off? It's different for everyone, but when you know what surrounds your stress, you can manage it.

Identifying your stress sources means you can find ways to reduce them. Like most things in life, coping mechanisms also vary from human to human. Step back and look at whether your stressors can change their spots or whether it's only your approach to them that can. Breathing techniques, meditation and moving your body are all excellent management methods. If you're a talk-it-out person – find your bestie or a therapist for a chat. Stress management is very possible, but it takes practice. Make it a part of your every day, and your stress will be less.

National Stress Awareness Week includes a bunch of events: online seminars, summits, interactive chats and hashtagged events on your socials, as well as real-life stuff. Start with something simple – choose one action to ease each aspect of your wellbeing: physical, mental and emotional. Then do those things every day for 30 days. That's how long it takes to turn a technique into a behaviour shift that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Humans who are less stressed are kinder and more effective; alone and together.

Kiera Harrison