Americans are among the most stressed-out workers in the entire world and according to The American Institute of Stress, eight in ten Americans experience stress every week. Whether it’s from work, money or relationships, stress is an often-inevitable feeling that many Americans can relate to experiencing. For this reason, it’s important for everyone to understand ways they can de-stress in their day to day and also improve their overall well-being.
National Stress Awareness Month has been recognized every April since 1992, but this year it seems particularly important as we face many challenges transitioning through a pandemic.
When you are placed in a stressful situation, specific stress hormones rush into your bloodstream leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. This is helpful in emergency situations but having this “rush” for extended periods of time can be dangerous and make people susceptible to short and even long-term issues.
“Stress is a normal experience, but when prolonged can become problematic. It’s important to find balance in life for stress relief and this can be different for everyone. Healthy balance in life means increasing activities that: make you laugh, help you connect with others, increase healthy physical activity and allow for mental relaxation,” says Rachael Frederick, Aspirus Behavioral Health Therapist.
Although stress symptoms can be different with each person, the most common symptoms of stress include fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite or behavior, teeth grinding, and feeling dizzy.
Long-term or chronic stress can be dangerous and even toxic for the body. From headaches to stomach disorders to depression – very serious issues like stroke and heart disease can come as a result of stress.
When 80 percent of Americans experience stress on a weekly basis, it’s important to figure out the best way to manage it. Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress. Here are a few ways recommended by the Center for Disease Control:
- Eat a Healthy Meal – Food often keeps everyone going throughout the day. Try to eat healthy foods like leafy greens and vegetables, which follows an anti-inflammatory diet proven to decrease stress and improve both mental and physical health.
- Stay Hydrated When constantly on the go it’s normal to need some coffee or extra caffeine. However, caffeine intake may increase stress levels. Try having a glass a water with every caffeinated beverage to balance out hydration.
- Take Five – Taking a five-minute break can help easy stress and increase productivity. Going on a walk, reading a book or magazine, or even staring out the window are just a few things to do to step away and come back feeling recharged.
- Talk to Others – Communication is always the best policy, and whether it’s to talk it out with someone about an issue or just vent, getting things off the mind can help find solutions.
- Rest – When times get hectic it can feel impossible to find time to rest. However, there is nothing more productive than taking the time to recharge those mental batteries.
- Reprioritize To-Do Lists – Make sure lists are manageable. Having unrealistic expectations about how much can get done in one day will make anyone feel overwhelmed and, at the end, increase their level of stress.
Learning to cope with stress and finding healthy ways to deal with stressful situations can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life.
To talk to someone about managing stress, visit aspirus.org / find-a-provider.