Stress is all around us. The first thing I do when I wake up is think about all I have to do in the day. It’s a list of never-ending things to do. I go from place to place, work to work, without much time to sit down and rest. In fact, most Americans are like me. We work more than ever, stress mounts up, and it’s affecting more than our productivity; it’s affecting our bodies and health too.
It’s not just work though either. Many of us are here to learn. We’re trying our best to balance what life throws at us, be it school, work or home life. The balance of trying to do it all stresses me out, and I know I’m not alone.
According to a New York Post article, “Americans Are Stressed Out” by Max Jaeger, eight in 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. That means that we frequently or sometimes experience stress in our daily lives compared to 21 percent of Americans who rarely or never experience stress. I’d like to meet a person who isn’t stressed out by something. I didn’t know they existed. I feel like it would be like finding the Loch Ness monster.
Fourty-one percent of adults say that they lack the time to do all the things they want, according to a Gallup article, “Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress” by Lydia Saad. I’m surprised that number isn’t higher. I certainly feel like I never get all the things done that I want to and am constantly pushing my to-do list items to the next day. I have one item on my list that’s been on there for a year, another for a few months. When I run out of time in the day, I just push it to the next.
What is stress? According to an article by the American Institute of Stress, stress is hard to define, but two common definitions of stress are the physical, mental or emotional strain or tension, or a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.
What stresses us out? An article by the American Psychological Association, “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation,” states our most common stressors are the future of our nation, money, work, current political climate, and violence and crime.
While those stressors add to my stress, I think of my daily life as having more of an effect on stress on my body. I can feel it in muscles the next day when I’ve been stressed. And I definitely have a hard time sleeping, but I am constantly fatigued.
Nearly half of Americans lay awake at night thinking about stress and can’t sleep regularly. This affects our bodies.
What does it do to our bodies? Not all stress is bad, but constantly being stressed leads to chronic stress, which is very bad for the body. Chronic stress, according to an article by Paula Derrow in Everyday Health, “How Stress Affects Your Body, From Your Brain to Your Digestive System,” stress can develop into a serious illness.
“The stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine affect most areas of the body, interfering with sleep and increasing the risk of stroke, blood pressure and heart disease, as well as causing depression and anxiety,” said Alka Gupta, M.D., co-director of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing program at New York- Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City.
According to the article by Derrow, stress causes inflammation, affects your digestive tract, messes with your immune system, can muddle your brain and make you feel crummy all over.
What can we do to relieve our stress? The number one thing we do to relieve stress is exercise, according to the American Psychological Association. Fifty-three percent of Americans exercise or take part in physical activity. The next most popular activity is listen to music. We also pray, meditate or practice yoga.
Sometimes I’m just too tired to exercise, but I know it’s good for me. In fact, experts say that even if you are tired, you should go exercise. It’ll help to relieve stress and may give you more energy. I’ll listen to music as I exercise or on my way to all the places I have to go. I listen to music that goes with my mood.
If we practiced just a few of these stress-relieving activities, we could lower our risk for developing something serious. As my roommate always reminds me, you’ve got to take care of yourself. If you’re like me, it’s hard to say no to people, but sometimes, you just have to say I can’t do it all. There’s never enough time in the day to get all the things you want to get done, and maybe that’s OK. Just listen to your body and take care of yourself. There’s only one of you. Don’t let stress beat you up. Take a swing back.