Stress is the body’s natural physical, mental, and emotional response to an external stressor. As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health, small amounts of stress can be a good thing. It helps motivate people to prepare or perform and might even be lifesaving in some situations. However, chronic stress, has a severely negative impact your health. It can weaken your immune system and can make you more susceptible to numerous health issues including headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure and even heart disease. Listed below are additional facts about stress as cited by the 2020 American Psychological Association (APA) Stress in America survey:
- 1 in 5 American adults say that their mental health has declined since last year.
- 78% of adults report that the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life.
- 2 in 3 adults (67%) say they have experienced increased stress over the course of the pandemic.
- Gen Z has an average stress level of 6.1 out of 10. This is significantly higher than all other generations: 5.6 for millennials, 5.2 for Gen X, 4.0 for boomers, and 3.3 for older adults (75+).
Stress Management Techniques
Stress is a universal human experience and we are very much still in the midst of a mental health crisis. That means every person can benefit from learning about stress and how to manage it. Listed below are a variety of stress management techniques you can start incorporating into your life today!
- Exercise: Physical activity is one of the best ways to help you manage stress. Not only does it instantly improve your mood due to the release of hormones like endorphins and endocannabinoids, but it also helps improve your quality of sleep at night and improves your immune system. Both of which set your body up to handle stress more adequately.
- Nutrition: Stress eating highly processed foods that are high in sugar and fat may provide temporarily relief, however they cause long term damage to both your physical and mental health. Focusing on eating nutritious foods and consuming a balanced diet not only keeps your body healthy, but it helps regulate your mood and manage stress levels.
- Meditation: Meditating brings short-term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation to try, each one is unique and brings its own appeal. Visit our previous blog post to learn more!
- Gratitude: Studies show that grateful people enjoy better mental health, lower stress, and a better quality of life. Gratitude practices, such as journaling, are a great-long term strategy for managing stress. Practicing gratitude regularly also reminds you of all of the resources you have to cope with stress, which is very empowering.
- Positive Self-Talk: Training your inner voice to speak positively can help you develop a healthier outlook and help you manage your emotions and take positive action. Start paying attention to your self-talk and when you notice you are giving yourself harsh self-criticism or having self-doubt, redirect your thoughts in a more realistic and compassionate way.