Stress can be found in all aspects of your life and it continues to be a driving force behind many of the mental and physical ailments of the U.S. population. The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America™ survey warns that a combination of high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress suggests that the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis.
While you can’t escape stress, you can minimize its mental and physical impact by implementing the following healthy approaches to managing it.
Work Stress Leads the Pack
Americans spend more time at work than they do anywhere else in their lives. So it makes sense that your job is one of the top sources for stress. As you clock countless hours on the job, stress can pile up as you face increased responsibilities, tighter deadlines and difficult co-workers. The American Institute of Stress has reported that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.
To help minimize workplace stress, take quick 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day to walk around the building to blow off steam or do a variety of neck and back stretches to loosen tight muscles. At the end of the workday, keep your stresses at the office and out of the home by logging out of your work e-mail and communication accounts as soon as you leave the building. It also can be helpful to create a task list at the end of the day so you can clear your mind before coming home and prepare yourself for the next day.
Financial and Tax Stress Front and Center
With Uncle Sam knocking at your door during tax season, your personal finances can be one of the most predominant stress sources in your life this time of year. To keep tax and financial tension at bay, it’s important to be organized so you aren’t stressing about the unknown or caught off guard by an unexpected expense. It also can be helpful to break down your expenses and income into smaller, more specific categories so you can get a grasp on how much money you have coming in and where your money is going. Free smartphone applications and online programs are available to give you quick and easy insight into your financial outlook. Enlisting the help of a financial advisor also can be a valuable resource to navigate your financial landscape and minimize stress.
Family and Friends Turn Up the Heat
Family and friend gatherings can be fun times to enjoy with your loved ones, but a friendly gathering can quickly turn into a heated, stressful environment before you know it. To keep the stress flames from firing at your next function, focus your family/friend event on fun-filled, positive experiences that are healthy for your heart and soul. Also, re-evaluate your invitation list before your next get-together and only invite family members and friends who are able to sideline their stressful behavior until after the event is over.
Weight Loss and Getting into Shape a Top Concern
As most health and fitness resolutions are entering the retirement phase by this time of year, you may be feeling stressed out about accomplishing your weight loss and fitness goals. To get a handle on your health and fitness levels, it can be helpful to maintain realistic goals and know your specific numbers (BMI, Body Fat Percentage, etc.) so you have a clear path to success. By mapping out your health and fitness journey, you can minimize the common stress of trying to meet a goal, but not knowing the steps needed to achieve your desired result.
National Tragedies Affect Everyone
When national tragedies strike it can be really easy to get sucked into endless hours of watching news coverage and searching online to gather all of the information you can about the event. This constant inundation of information can quickly become overwhelming and create a deep stress knot in the gut of your stomach.
To minimize the stress associated with national disasters and tragedies, try limiting yourself to less than an hour a day of media coverage about the event and take time away from media devices each day to give your mind and emotions time to process the information.
Managing the daily stresses that make up your life can be easier said than done. Being aware of the top stress sources in your life and being conscious about how to minimize them can lead to a happier, more fulfilled lifestyle. When stress has you at your last wits’ end, take a deep breath before you react and focus on tackling the source behind your stress. Daily time outs, weekly stress reliever check-ins and monthly massage sessions can help keep everything in perspective, as well as restore and rejuvenate a healthy and more positive outlook on life.
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