March 17, 2022
Are You Managing Stress Or Is Stress Managing You?
Stress affects everyone, even superheroes. There’s no escaping it.
According to The American Institute of Stress, about
- 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress
- 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health
- 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health
- 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress.
- Stress levels for about half of all Americans are getting worse instead of better.
STRESS IS INEVITABLE
You’re going to feel stressed. We all are. We can’t escape it.
With career demands, family responsibilities, and people wanting something from us all the time because we’re connected to them 24/7 by that little “smart” device that’s always within reach, stress is here to stay.
Although I can’t say for sure, it seems people are more stressed now than ever before.
Added to life’s pressure cooker of endless activities and relentless demands are a chronic lack of sleep and exercise and very little time for self-care, which, put together, is a recipe for total meltdown.
Stress makes it hard to manage life. But it’s more than a nuisance. It kills, too.
SIDE EFFECTS OF STRESS
Here are some of the worst side effects of stress, along with what we can do to reduce our stress levels and relax more.
Stress raises blood pressure. If you’ve ever found yourself in a highly stressful situation, all hot and bothered and with a pounding headache, you know what we’re talking about here. Not fun.
The occasional stressful event or situation really isn’t a big deal.
The real danger lies with ongoing, daily stress because chronic stress can lead to hypertension and increased heart attack or stroke risk.
Next, let’s look at sleep for a minute. Insomnia is a common side effect of stressful living. It’s hard to fall asleep, and you don’t sleep well when you do.
Before long, the adverse side effects of inadequate rest begin piling up.
You will start to feel drained and have trouble focusing or staying on task. It’s as if you’re living in a daze.
It’s impossible to function at our best without getting at least 6-8 (some research recommends 7-9) quality hours of sleep per night.
COMMON CAUSES OF STRESS
When asked, here’s some stuff people confess stresses them most:
• The economy
• Family responsibilities
• Personal health issues
• Housing costs
• Job stability
• Family health problems
• Personal safety
WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
Dealing with the source of stress is one of the first lines of defense against stress. If you think stressful people and situations will go away on their own if you avoid them long enough, think again. Never going to happen.
Sometimes we can eliminate the source of stress, but that’s not always practical, especially when it’s a job you and your family rely on.
Sometimes the source of stress is the people we’re “stuck” with, like the kids driving us nuts or our significant other.
But before you put the kids up for adoption and get a divorce, give the following stress-relieving activities a try.
A quiet, relaxing stroll outside does wonders to calm the soul. Try it and see.
Hitting the gym is a guaranteed stress-reducer, just about anything that gets you moving and sweating goes a long way to reverse the overwhelming effects of stress.
Take five minutes to meditate or practice deep breathing exercises to self-soothe whenever feeling stressed.
Remember to get plenty of quality sleep, too, and choose healthier eating options.
Reduce sugar and stimulants like caffeine.
Redefine what a situation means to you. Instead of commuting to a job you can’t stand or hate, think of two or three blessings your job provides, like food, a roof, and clothes. Change your perspective by finding something to be thankful for to help you cope until you find something else.
Becoming aware of stress and how it affects you is a great first step. Now take a few deep, calming breaths and enjoy a relaxing stroll around the block. Notice how much better you’re feeling already?