Everyone has stress. It is a normal part of life. You can feel stress in your body when you have too much to do or when you haven’t slept well. You can also feel stress when you worry about things like your job, money, relationships, or a friend or family member who is ill or in crisis. In response to these strains, your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation. However, when you are constantly reacting to stressful situations without making adjustments to counter the effects, you will feel stress which can threaten your health and well-being.
Why are stress rates increasing?
Chronic stress may also cause disease, either because of changes in your body or the overeating, smoking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress. Other forms of chronic stress, such as depression and low levels of social support, have also been implicated in increased cardiovascular risk.
What age group does stress affect the most?
Those aged 18-33 years old suffer the highest levels of stress in the nation, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). In a gauge measuring stress, the millennial generation scored a 5.4 (on a scale of 1 to 10), compared to the national average of 4.9.
What are the top causes of stress?
Causes of Stress
Everyone has different stress triggers. Work stress tops the list, according to surveys. Forty percent of U.S. workers admit to experiencing office stress, and one-quarter say work is the biggest source of stress in their lives.
Causes of work stress include:
- Being unhappy in your job
- Having a heavy workload or too much responsibility
- Working long hours
- Having poor management, unclear expectations of your work, or no say in the decision-making process
- Working under dangerous conditions
- Being insecure about your chance for advancement or risk of termination
- Having to give speeches in front of colleagues
- Facing discrimination or harassment at work, especially if your company isn’t supportive
Life stresses can also have a big impact. Examples of life stresses are:
- The death of a loved one
- Loss of a job
- Increase in financial obligations
- Getting married
- Moving to a new home
- Chronic illness or injury
- Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
- Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
- A traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one
How to reduce stress levels?
Of course, the current lifestyle will not change to become what it was a few decades ago. Therefore, it is necessary that people find healthy mechanisms to deal with the new challenges that arise in this era, and which are having a negative impact on the health of millions of people.
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, Ph.D., a Chicago health and wellness coach.
It’s simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
3. Improve your sleep quality
Sleeping is regenerative for the body and for the mind. If you have trouble sleeping, this can be the culprit of increasing your stress problems. Having an exercise routine can significantly improve your sleep quality.
It is important to learn and practice relaxation techniques that allow you to sleep better. In several occasions, it is not so much the number of hours that you sleep, but the quality of the hours that we are asleep.
Breathing exercises, lavender oil, and melatonin are natural aids that can help improve the quality of your sleep and help relax both your body and your mind.
4. Reduce time on unnecessary tasks
Whether it’s going to the grocery store or going to the pharmacy, it’s time you waste on doing a task that you can avoid by using technology.
Technology brought challenges, but also it also brought benefits. Thanks to the infinity of applications that there are, and the beauty of the Internet, you can find a service that does the grocery shopping for you or buys your medication online.
This can increase your free time and reduce small amounts of stress involved in simple tasks, like fighting traffic or long lines to do basic tasks such as buying medication or doing grocery shopping. Time that can be better spent cooking nutritious meals.
Stress and Health
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
Don’t ignore health problems
If you are suffering from a health problem, it is important that you address it in a timely manner. Make yearly check-ups to know your general health status and know what you should do to improve it.
On several occasions, a vicious circle is made, in which a health problem generates stress in the body and stress exacerbates the condition. Such is the case of excessive hair loss, where women, in particular, suffer the condition more than men. Find alternatives that can help you cope with the symptoms while you manage your stress levels. In the case of hair loss, you can find comfort in wearing a wig (read more here).
If the symptoms of stress are being presented in mental illnesses, it is crucial that you seek help, it can be with a psychiatrist or with a psychologist. Medication, talk therapy, and various natural treatments have been proven to be great allies in the fight against depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Also, in addition, if a health problem generates stress in the body and stress exacerbates the condition and you begin to experience any pain or problem that is not resolved over time, it is crucial that you seek medical attention.
Most importantly, remember, symptoms of stress won’t go away until you can control the root of the problem.