“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” –Peter Marshall
If you Google “Stress Management,” you’ll receive 54,100,000 or more results—a massive topic that shows how important this is to your wellbeing. And on a single site, such as WebMD, you’ll find more than 5,361 articles devoted to stress.
Why is this topic searched on, and talked and written about in such large numbers?
Because . . .
Many years ago, I worked in a high-pressure sales job. The money was great. We had company cars and expense accounts. But we also had seemingly unending and increasingly higher sales goals to meet.
Well one day, Sam, our highest achiever, dropped dead in the office. Just like that! To everyone’s horror, he fell flat on the floor, face down outside his cubicle.
What made his death so shocking was that Sam was an avid tennis player. So he got plenty of exercises. This tragedy baffled us.
We learned later that the doctor said he died from chronic stress, or what’s referred to as, “acute stress hormone.”
He was only 55 years old.
What is stress?
“A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances” –Oxford English Dictionary
Consider these U.S. Stress Statistics
- 77% percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress
- 73% periodically experience psychological symptoms caused by tension
- 33% feel they are living with extreme pressure
- 48% believe their stress has increased over the past five years
- 76% cited money and work as the leading cause of their emotional strain
- 48% reported lying awake at night due to stress.
(Source: 2016 Statistics Brain Research Institute)
Stress Causes Workplace Violence!
From a survey conducted January 12, 2018:
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress
- 42% say their coworkers need help dealing with the daily job pressures.
- 14% say they had at one time felt like striking a coworker, but didn’t
- 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress.
- 10% fear an individual at work could become violent.
- 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in the workplace.
- 18% have experienced some in-your-face threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.
(Source: The American Institute of Stress [AIS])
Add to the above statistics the fact that many feel less job security than ever before while working longer and harder. Many workers overcommit and stretch themselves too thin. Plus, some have awful bosses and hate their jobs.
Recipes for disaster!
Stress Makes Us Sick!
According to Jay Winner, MD, as reported by R. Morgan Griffin on WebMd.com, these are 10 of the most significant health problems due to stress:
- Heart disease (sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for heart problems).
- Asthma (stress can worsen asthma).
- Obesity (excess belly fat poses the more significant health risk).
- Diabetes (stress can worsen diabetes: increases lousy behavior and raises glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly).
- Headaches (stress is one of the most common triggers for tension headaches, including migraines).
- Depression and anxiety (chronic stress equates to higher rates of depression and anxiety, such as experienced by people with demanding work with few rewards; they have an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years).
- Gastrointestinal problems (stress doesn’t cause ulcers but makes them worse; also contributes to gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome).
- Alzheimer’s disease (stress might worsen the condition; researchers speculate that reducing stress could slow down the progression of the disease).
- Accelerated aging (there’s evidence that stress can affect how you age; according to research, stress seemed to accelerate aging by 9 to 17 additional years).
- Premature death (a study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly caregivers looking after their spouses—people who are naturally under a great deal of stress and found that caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death than people their age who were not caregivers) **
What can you do?
How can you improve your health?
Dr. Winner shares” Four Ways to Fight Back Against Stress—and Improve Your Health”:
- Breathe deeply (Just a few minutes of deep breathing can calm you; you can do this anywhere. As you breathe out, you relax a specific muscle group. Start with them muscles in your jaw. On the next breath out, relax your shoulder. Move through the different areas of your body until you’re feeling calm.)
- Focus on the moment (Instead of worrying about the future, focus on what you’re doing right now. If you’re walking, feel the sensation of your legs moving, and so forth.)
- Reframe the situation (If you’re running late for an appointment and stuck in traffic, it won’t help to get all worked up. Look at that time as an opportunity to yourself.)
- Keep your problems in perspective (The next time you’re feeling stressed out, think about the things for which you are grateful. If you have family and friends, consider yourself fortunate. This can be a surprisingly effective method for stress relief.)
- Eat right.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise every day.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Take in the beauty of creation.
- Read * (my favorite way to relax)
There you have it: Top 12 Coping with Stress Strategies. Many of us experience enormous pressures in our daily lives. Use these and other tips to keep stress from leading to burnout in your life.