Stress is Life: Here’s How to Manage
Everyone is affected by stress, so read on how to better manage your stress during National Stress Awareness Month https://hrbl.me/2J0L7ci #StressAwarenessMonthClick To Tweet
Like eating and sleeping, stress is an expected part of our lives but can be managed. During National Stress Awareness Month, we’re thinking even more about this reaction and condition that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says:
- Affects everyone: It can happen once or be a constant companion. No one is immune.
- Isn’t always bad: It can motivate us or even save our lives.
- Can harm us if it’s long term: It suppresses, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems and can put us at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.
Stress by the Numbers
So just how stressed are we? Recent studies found:
- Stressed countries: In 2013 the most recent survey from Bloomberg reported that out of 74 countries, the United States ranked number 54. Norwegians are least stressed while Nigerians stress the most.
- Stressed cities: In fall 2017, Zipjet, sometimes called the “Uber” of laundry services in Europe, rated the least stressful cities in the world out of 150 total. In the U.S., Boston ranked 35, San Francisco 40, Washington, D.C. 58, Miami 80, Los Angeles 81 and New York City 84. In case you’re wondering, Stuttgart, Germany topped out at number one, while Baghdad, Iraq was most stressed.
- Stress here at home: Turn on the news: How does that make you feel? You’re not alone, since the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America report released last November found the U.S. to be “its highest stress level yet.”
The study found the causes of stress to vary but worth noting:
- 63 percent say the future of the nation is a very or somewhat significant source of stress
- 62 percent cited money
- 61 percent cited work
What to Do Now
If stress is a mess for you, and its negative effects continue to accrue, it’s time to take positive steps to take control. The NIMH recommends the following tactics:
- Recognize what’s happening: That’s the first step. If you’re tossing and turning at night, drinking too much, getting mad over the smallest things and feeling like you need a recharge, you may be stressed.
- Be social: Everyone needs support, and you get it from friends and family, from your gym or other groups that you belong to.
- Work out to work it off: The old adage about blowing off steam applies here. Doing it in a productive way, burning calories and releasing pent-up energy is good for your body and your psyche.
- Eat to beat stress: Think about what you’re eating. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reminds you to consume low-fat, high-fiber and complex carbohydrate-rich meals that include smart carbs such as peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables. These take longer to digest, keep you full longer, and help you escape those blood sugar ups-and-downs caused by simple carbs or sugars. Avoid eating those, along with high-fat foods and too much caffeine.
- Get that help: Start with your physician or other healthcare provider, who may recommend you seek professional counseling or therapy.
Think About Stress Differently
The Stanford (University) News Service shared news about research that finds it’s all in how you look at it — stress, that is. If you look at it as helpful, you may have better health, emotional well-being and work productivity. It seems that if you view stress as harmful, you may be tempted to rely on those harmful coping mechanisms such as substance use.
You’re likely to do much better if you see yourself as being able to handle, learn and grow from stress. Also remember that everyone has stress, and just because you do doesn’t mean you’re “lesser than.”
Each time you deal with stress you’re getting stronger, experts say. Now you’re ready for the next time life throws you a curve ball. Go hit it out of the park.