Feeling More Stressed? You’re Not Alone!
“Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do can leave you feeling totally undone.”
– Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, I’d Kill for a Cookie
Stress is a fact of life. No one is totally free of it, as long as you are alive. The negative effects of stress can take a serious toll on the quality of your life. And you may be one of those persons who have been feeling more stress lately.
If so, join the club. In research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology1 on April 12, 2012 psychological stress was assessed in 3 national surveys administered in 1983, 2006, and 2009 using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). The results of this study show an increase in stress over time in almost every demographic category from 1983 to 2009, ranging from 10%-30%. Stress increased 18% for women and 24% for men during this period. Stress increased little in response to the 2008-2009 economic downturn except among White, middle-aged, college-educated men with full-time jobs. This group’s increase was almost double that of any other demographic group.
Overall, throughout the years of the study period, women reported having higher stress levels as compared to men; findings show that stress increases with decreasing age, education and income; and unemployed persons reported higher levels of stress, while retired persons reported lower levels. “These data suggest greater stress-related health risks among women, younger adults, those of lower socioeconomic status, and men potentially subject to substantial losses of income and wealth.” 1
If you are one of those persons who feel the effects of stress in your life, don’t despair. You have more influence over the amount of stress you experience than you may think. Here are seven lifestyle habits that will reduce your stress levels and improve the quality of your life:
- Practice meditation and relaxation skills on a regular basis
- Exercise daily – a combination of aerobic exercise with some strength training is optimal
- Get enough sleep
- Eat nutritious food and less of it
- Minimize exposure to toxic substances (and toxic environments)
- Maintain social and supportive connections, and
- Schedule pleasant activities each week
This may sound like a lot to take on. But don’t think of it as an all or nothing proposition. Every step you take in these directions will make a positive difference. And as you do so, you will begin to notice increased energy, a more positive state of mind, and greater tolerance, all of which will make it easier for you to manage your day-to-day commitments more effectively and with less stress.
- COHEN, S. and JANICKI-DEVERTS, D. (2012), Who’s Stressed? Distributions of Psychological Stress in the United States in Probability Samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42: 1320–1334. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00900.x
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
– Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris