National Stress Awareness Month

National Stress Awareness Month

  • Deborah, from HeartMath

April is National Stress Awareness Month and most of us are experiencing increasing stress levels. We know we should reduce our level of stress, but it can seem too hard to do when we’re just trying to keep up with everything we have to do. We may even be aware of the stress statistics like:

  • Chronic stress exacerbates health, communication and performance problems
  • Employees with high stress have 46% higher health costs (JOEM 2009)
  • 61% of the workforce is impacted by chronic stress, resulting in $300 billion of lost productivity (HERO).

We may even hear our inner voice whispering to change our ways or we may be the next statistic. It’s not surprising that Norman Anderson, CEO of the American Psychological Association said, “Stress could easily become our next public health crisis.” The APA’s Stress in America survey found that many Americans caught in a vicious cycle of managing stress in unhealthy ways, but lacking willpower and time to change.

I’m writing this on April 16th, National Stress Awareness Day, which is a day to focus on how stress is affecting our lives and to become pro-active about reducing our personal, family and work place stress.

There are simple, effective steps we can take, but first we have to be aware of how stress overload is affecting our attitude, relationships and health.

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that stress is an increasing and on-going issue and many U.S. workers feel stressed out and undervalued.

Addressing the connection between stress, attitude and health has been my focus since studying psychology at the University of Chicago. Last year, I was invited to present HeartMath’s stress solutions, which are being used by thousands of health professionals, health care systems, businesses and the U.S. military, to a group of business leaders interested in addressing the “stress problem.”

These stress solutions are based on 20 years of scientific research at the Institute of HeartMath on the critical link between emotional self-regulation and cognitive performance. They empower people to reset their response to stress, increase their resilience and achieve behavior change.

Pre- and Post-assessments of over 5,000 employees and individuals found that, in just six to nine weeks, HeartMath’s stress solutions reduced these clinical stress factors:

  • 58% reduction in metabolic syndrome (three or more major risk factors)
  • 50% drop in fatigue
  • 46% drop in anxiety
  • 60% drop in depression
  • 30% improvement in sleep

Post-assessments after six months and then one year showed sustained improvements. An independent actuarial analysis of one self-insured employer showed a 2:1 ROI resulting in health care cost savings of $585 per HeartMath trained person in the first year alone, with a projected 4:1 ROI in the second year. A similar ROI has been achieved in other organizations.

Don Shaffer, President and CEO of RSF Social Finance writes about HeartMath solutions, “I feel we are at an inflection point in society at large. There is an incredible amount of uncertainty in the present and about the future. There is an unusual combination of factors going on now that are important in enabling people to see deeper into the very things that are most stressful right now, whether the economy, climate change and so on. I feel that what HeartMath is doing with stress reduction is part of what’s opening the field or opening a channel for people to be able to make progress in that path from being stressed out, uncertain, and anxiety-filled to a new level of personal and social responsibility. With HeartMath, I can take a step-by-step methodological approach to my own psycho-spiritual-biological health and see how that relates to the broader community and societal health. This is a unique time we are in, and because of the depth of the anxiety level, a broader number of the population is able to think about more radical and more far reaching solutions and HeartMath is able to be a bridge to that. HeartMath can speak in terms of biological health to spiritual health to community health.