The University of Central Florida’s Marriage and Family Research Institute and theDepartment of Health in Orange County are partnering to promote Stress Awareness Month and the link between chronic stress and chronic disease.

UCF’s MRFI and DOH-Orange will host a free communication workshop called, “The Fair Fight,” Wednesday, April 23, from noon to 1 p.m. at the health department, 6101 Lake Ellenor Drive in Orlando. The fun, engaging workshop will help participants strengthen communication with spouses, partners, children and co-workers.  It is free and open to the public.

“When you’re stressed, your body responds by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse all rise,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Department of Health in Orange County.

According to the American Psychological Association, stress does not merely afflict the mind; it can also affect people on a cellular level. In fact, long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses – from headaches to stomach disorders to depression– and can even increase the risk of serious conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Understanding the stress-health connection can people better manage stress and improve their health and well-being.

One of the main causes of stress is poor communication in relationships.

“Effective communication decreases stress, builds support and strengthens relationships,” says Dr. Andrew Daire, executive director of the MFRI and associate dean of Research for the College of Education and Human Performance.

During April, which is National Stress Awareness Month, health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country will join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and effective coping skills for stress.