Stress! It’s so hard to avoid in our busy lives between the demands of work, school, and home.
It’s so bad that every year the American Psychological Association has the Harris Poll conduct its annual Stress in America™ survey. The results from the 2018 survey are in, and people are stressed!
Adults overall reported being highly stressed about money and work. And if that isn’t bad enough, more than two-thirds of those surveyed reported that the nation’s future caused them stress.
Can you guess which group was the most likely to be stressed in the US? Generation Z adults (18-21).
Youth is supposed to be such a wonderful time, but more than nine in 10 of these adults had experienced at least one emotional or physical symptom because of stress. They were also much more likely than other adults to report their mental health as fair or poor.
While stress can take an incredible toll on your physical and mental health, there are ways to manage it.
Get Enough Sleep!
It seems unfair. Stress causes you to sleep poorly, and then the lack of sleep itself causes more stress. Before you know it, you are caught up in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and stress.
Not getting enough sleep can seriously affect your health. Constantly getting inadequate sleep has been linked with the onset of cognitive decline and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. And then there are the standard culprits: obesity, diabetes, and heart disease – all major killers.
Your first thought may be to take drugs to sleep. That might work for a while, but it is not sustainable in the long run.
Experts suggest a number of ways to get a better night’s sleep.
One of the key ways (that many people resist) is to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time everyday. While sleeping in on the weekend may feel divine, it really isn’t good for you in the long run.
Another is difficult to implement in this day and age but is well worth it: banish electronics from your bedroom. The blue light they give off is primed to keep you awake and disrupt your body’s sleep rhythm.
Following this advice will help you to sleep better. You will then be much better able to resist stressful events after a good night’s sleep.
People have been meditating for thousands of years, which speaks to the benefits you can get from the practice.
Spending a few minutes quietly meditating doesn’t seem like it would do much for your stress levels, but it can make all the difference in the world.
Meditation practitioners can speak to the reduction in stress that happens from ongoing meditation. Scientists that study the brain have been trying to understand why meditation works so well and have partially succeeded.
While much remains to be learned, research has shown that meditation can change not only behavior but also brain structure and activity.
So when stress starts to get the better of you, make room in your life for meditation. There are even apps for meditation to help you fit it into a stressful day!
Get a Pet
Dog and cat lovers know that the joy of having a pet knows no bounds.
Seeing the smile on your dog’s face when you get home or having your cat lovingly greet you at your feet can make your stress levels just melt away.
A lot of research on the health benefits of owning a pet has been conducted. A recent study looked at how having a dog strongly reduced the level of stress in the caregivers of autistic children (speaking of stress!).
Having a dog reduced the stress levels of many of the parents by so much that they moved from the category of “clinically high” levels of distress to normal levels.
These are just some of the ways that you can reduce stress, and you can also increase your amount of exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Before you know it, you will have a buffer against the stresses of daily life!