Life is increasingly fast-paced in our current world. The pandemic has slowed us down to some extent but, people are still filling their time with loads of information from tv and the internet. The average screen time daily is 7+ hours! Our minds are on overload and the pandemic has only added to our stress levels. Since 2007, each year the APA conducts a nationwide survey and produces a report on stress levels for its Mind/Body/Health campaign. The purpose of this report is to identify sources of stress, common behaviors, and the link between mind and body.
This year the survey found that the average reported stress level during the prior month was 5.6, (on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means “little to no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress”). 84% of adults reported feeling at length emotion associated with prolonged stress. The most common stressors were feelings of anxiety (47%), sadness (44%), and anger (39%). Two out of three adults said that the issues facing America were overwhelming to them.
In some ways, it can be relieving to know you are not alone. If you have experienced a higher stress level this year, you are NOT alone! Take comfort that this is a universal problem and that most of us are feeling it deeply. Unless you are Wonder Woman, you most likely have gained weight, drank a little more than you know you should or normally would, felt down at times, been grumpy with your spouse more often than you’d like to admit, etc. etc.
While it is comforting to know that you are not alone, it’s likely not a sustainable path to good health and mental well-being for you to continue this way long term. So what can you do about these feelings and the habits that are associated with them?
First, working on awareness around what you are doing daily and how you are responding to stress is helpful. Try journal writing and reflecting on how you are feeling day to day. Ask yourself questions like these:
What’s good in my life right now?
What am I feeling right now?
What’s going on for me right now?
What’s not going so well right now?
What emotion am I feeling on a regular basis?
The more we write out our thoughts, the more likely we are to give them time and process them. I always tell my clients “awareness is half the battle!” Once you know how you feel, you can then brainstorm solutions. This takes you out of reaction to life mode and puts you back in the driver’s seat to make clear choices for your health and well-being. Instead of feeling sad or angry and grabbing a cocktail, you can process your emotions and what you might do to help the situation causing the emotion in a positive way.
Did you know that after five minutes of reading your stress can be reduced by 68%? Just 45 minutes of a creative activity reduces stress in the body. With only five minutes of exercise, you get a mood enhancement. Imagine if you did 30 minutes a day what that could change? The news is what gets me! I’ve had to do conscious self-talk and detox programs to take breaks from listening to the news. I am a new woman when I turn it off for several days or weeks at a time. It’s important to note what you can control and what you can’t. Stressing about a situation that is completely out of our control is common. Once we are aware of it, we can make different choices to focus on what we can control.
The worrying effects of stress on our health are well documented, from causing depression to increasing risks of cancer.
It’s also your responsibility to make time to relax and restore. It can be as simple as having healthy habits to practice at home. Let’s replace excessive drinking, gossip, worry, eating, and other habits that are not promotive of our overall health with these healthy alternatives:
Reading a Book
Eat Foods that Relieve Stress
Dance like no one is watching
Spend time with your pet
Laugh Your Head off
If you need an accountability partner to help you make healthy habits a priority, I’m here for you! Sign up for your free discovery coaching call today here.