Know Your Stressors this Stress Awareness Month
Stress is a daily occurrence. On its own, it’s actually critical for basic human survival, as stress plays an important role in how our body responds to external stimulus from something as simple as accidentally bumping your head to reading bad news on your phone.
Stress is important, but problems start when stress, even in low amounts, becomes chronic or “always on.” It may not seem much at first, but as time passes, the tiny amount of stress can and will build up until it overwhelms both our body and mind.
Therefore we need to be aware of what is stressing us, and there’s no better time to do this than Stress Awareness Month.
Fast Facts About Stress
Before we learn how to cope with everyday stress, here are some interesting facts.
- ⅓ of Americans say they are feeling extreme stress
- More than 70% of Americans experience stress that affects them physically and mentally
- Almost half of the US have sleep problems due to high stress levels
- More than 80% of workers feel stress at work
- If you’re a minority, a woman, a single parent, or the one in charge of family healthcare, you are most likely highly stressed
- You are almost 50% more likely to eat too much if you’re stressed out
- You are at risk of drinking more alcohol or smoking more by 29% and 16% respectively
- 1 in 2 adults who felt stressed are also likely depressed
- 1 in 5 said debts are their main cause of stress
- More than 30% of women experience high level of stress due to body image and general insecurity compared to just over 20% of men
- 60% of adults between 18-24 are highly stressed by the pressure to succeed.
How to cope with stress this Stress Awareness Month
We can’t 100% eliminate stress in our lives. No matter how much meditation we practice or how many “fight stress” books we read, stress is and will always be hanging around. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to lower it and live with it. Here are a few ways to clear your mind and relax:
1. Write down what’s stressing you
Writing down notes (as in with an actual pen and paper) can be quite therapeutic, especially if you’re writing something that’s just coming from you. It would feel as if you are physically manifesting your stressors which allows you to “see” them and think of ways to beat them.
It’s like fighting an invisible enemy. It’s also scary when you don’t know what you’re up against, but once you do, that’s when you start focusing on a plan to beat it.
2. Out of sight, out of mind (literally)
If you’re not fond of writing things down, consider at least removing the things that cause a lot of stress like our smartphones.
I think we can all agree that as much as it brings us joy, our phones can be one huge source of stress. So while it’s impossible to tell someone to just shut their phones off, they can at least consider reducing phone usage. The less you interact with a stressor, the less likely it will stress you out.
3. Talk about it
Talking about what’s bothering you every day can be one of the best things anyone with high levels of stress can do. The last thing you want is to hold all of that stress inside and never find a time to release them, even in small increments. Because when you don’t release stress, it can become too big and could result in problems that may negatively affect you and the people you care about.
4. Sleep better
Stress can be lowered by just sleeping well. Sleeping is basically your brain and body’s “self-healing” time. The better your sleep is, the better you can protect yourself against stressors.
Stress Awareness Month is the perfect time to visit (or revisit) all the things that are causing you to feel stressed out. Identify them, understand them, and then find ways to reduce their effects on you. Because we can’t completely eliminate stress, but we can learn to dance with it.