13 Jun Stress Management: America’s #1 Health Problem
Stress is a difficult health issue to handle because it stems primarily from psychological as opposed to physical threats. Managing stress can be extremely complicated and frustrating. We can feel a lack of control in our lives that can lead to anxiety, depression, apathy, and even physical ailments. Understanding stress and its sources are an important first step to helping reduce its effects.
You may often ask yourself “why do I feel so stressed?”
We feel stressed when demands on our time and energy outweigh our resources and skills for coping. This can manifest itself in a myriad of ways every day: feeling pressed for time meeting an important deadline at work, feeling overwhelmed taking care of a newborn, feeling unprepared for an important exam and many more examples. This extra “weight on our shoulders” shows up throughout our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For instance, you may notice that you get sick easily when you are stressed out. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease. Further, stress increases a person’s chances of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
In the short-term, stress can help us to perform our best or overcome a challenge. Our bodies’ natural “fight or flight” responses and adrenaline in moments of short-term stress have been known to give individuals incredible focus and strength. This “good” stress is called eustress and is just as important to understand and manage as negative stress. It is crucial that eustress be a part of our lives. However, stress that builds up or lasts a long time can create problems at work or school, at home, and with relationships.
How to manage stress? Stress doesn’t just affect adults. Kids of all ages can feel stress just as much as adults. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teens in school report that their stress levels are far higher than what they’d consider normal. In addition, 31% of teens report feeling overwhelmed by stress, and 30% report feeling depressed or sad because of stress.
Our stress level goes up and down over the course of our lifetime and we can’t always predict stressful moments. Some situations and stages of life tend to be more stressful than others. In the worst case, suicide and homicide can become very real threats. To the untrained eye this can seem to happen without warning.
Stress Management Tips and Techniques
Now that we understand the two main types of stress and some of the causes for them, we need to know some useful techniques for managing our stress.
Preparation: A major cause of stress can be feeling ill-prepared for a challenge. Whether it’s an exam at school, a presentation at work or any other foreseeable obstacle making a plan to handle the situation can reduce stress. This can take several forms. It can be making a study guide for a test, practicing in the mirror at home for a speech, or building an emergency kit for natural disasters. Feeling like we’ve adequately prepared for a situation greatly reduces stress levels.
Exercise: Excercise has been known to be a great stress reliever. Working out can take our minds off any negative issues going on in our lives and help to pump up our endorphins. Many runners report feeling a “runner’s high” when they get in a zone and there is scientific evidence to back up their claim. According to Scientific American, long bouts of aerobic exercise increase levels of good chemicals in the blood to reduce anxiety and lessen the ability to feel pain.
Meditation: Meditation and breathing exercises are a great way to clear your head and relax. The APA states that meditation can “help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness”. A routine of daily meditation or a habit of stealing a few moments to take some deep breaths when you feel your stress levels spiking can go a long way to reducing the effects of stress on your health.
Counseling: Sometimes stress is too much for us to handle on our own with these simple fixes. Some issues and stress triggers are extremely complicated and require professional help. There is no shame in seeking stress management counseling or family counseling services and it is becoming increasingly more common in America. Building a relationship with a family counseling center can be a very positive step to managing and reducing stress.
Stress Management & Family Counseling
Visit Corporate Family Counseling, PLLC for professional help. For decades, our stress experts have trained individuals, families and fortune-five hundred corporations alike. We’re ready to help you and yours thrive. We also supervise and train other therapists and medical professionals to measure progress and outcomes of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment provided to their patients and clients. Life’s trials will always happen, are you ready? We’re glad to help you!