In 2011, Americans rated their personal stress levels an average of 5.2 out of 10. And 22% admitted to being under extreme stress on a regular basis. Gulp!
And now, according to the most recent APA "Stress in America" survey, more than 4 out of 10 American adults (42 percent) report that their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years. Nearly 4 out of 10 (36 percent) say stress affects their overall happiness a great deal, and about the same number (37 percent) have felt overwhelmed in the past month by stress.
Stress can be physical, like what we subject our muscles to at the gym. And then there’s the kind that’s in our heads — that OMG I’m so overwhelmed right now feeling.
Stress—that overwhelming force that seems to drive America—is a mixed bag. Stress has been found to increase our risk of cancer and other diseases, yet it can also "boost our focus, energy and even our powers of intuition.
Let’s look at some common forms of stress we're addicted to, and how we can let them go.
In the APA survey, money (71 percent), work (69 percent), and the economy (59 percent) are the most commonly reported sources of stress. The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart had conducted research with more than a million people, and they have found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
Nearly half (46 percent) of adults in the survey say they lost patience or yelled at their spouse, partner, or children when stressed in the last month. When you are stressed you can become less-than-careful with the person you love. Make your body language soft and flowing. Aim to make your voice light– perhaps a little playful and sing-song or soothing. Show your caring side and be supportive of your partner.
In the APA survey, 30 percent of adults report that their stress level has a strong or very strong impact on their physical health. It sounds simple but in a stressful situation taking a deep breath, counting to ten and not reacting impulsively can be the best way to cope in the short term. Going for a short brisk walk to give yourself some space and time for you could be planned as a regular part of your day. A warm bath, listening to your favourite music, or having a power nap after lunch can also help.
In today's world, many people are overwhelmed by the demands of work, family, and social schedules. In a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, it was shown that students who felt they used their time wisely had higher satisfaction with their work and their lives. It’s clear that putting time management skills to use can lower stress and anxiety, as well as increase work and academic performance. What's key is identifying the areas of your life where you can use some help in managing your time and finding a strategy that will work for you.
When we're sick and don't feel well, we often become depressed and overwhelmed. Shift negative beliefs (I will never heal) to positive ones (I trust my body's healing powers). Listen to your body — and if a treatment or a doctor's approach feels "off," allow yourself to question it. Sleep when you need to. Stay away from people and settings that make you feel depleted instead of energized.
Once you are aware that they thrive on stress, you can then start training themselves to do things differently. Small moments of meditation – anywhere from three to five minutes a day, are a great way to calm the brain. Also it’s important to schedule breaks during work so that people can learn to disengage. And most importantly, the cell phone needs to be off.
Image Courtesy: Getty
Read more articles on Stress Management.
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