Mental stress has been taking a toll on health for years but lately people are even more stressed out. I see stressed out people at the grocery store, the gas station and at the clinic. You can just see the stress in their eyes and when I talk with them, I hear it in their voice. If you are feeling stressed, you aren’t alone.
According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, more Americans are worried about the future of the nation and 83% identified it as a significant source of stress. The same survey said more than half say the current political climate is a source of stress. (1) Recent events have been stressing everyone out. New moms are experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety according to a survey of 900 new moms. (2) So many news headlines are about stress and who is stressed, like health care workers, teens, parents, counselors and the list goes on. We can see this though. Can we see the long-term damage it will cause?
Your body doesn’t make mistakes. It responds to stressors, which is important for survival. If you’re being attacked by a bear then your heart rate goes up, your adrenaline goes up and your digestion slows. Your body is in fight or flight mode. Eventually the stress goes down so your body can return to rest and digest mode. If you are under constant stress, then this doesn’t happen. Now remember your body is like a Swiss Watch. Just one thing being off can affect all the gears. That can include your hormones, your heart, your GI and so many other physiological systems. Stress can make us very sick.
Help a Friend Who is Feeling Stressed
The most important thing you can do for someone who is stressed is to stop and listen. You might not have their experience or know their stress, but you can listen. You don’t have to solve their problem, but you can show you care. It also gives them time to acknowledge their stress. They might not have even realized how their stress was impacting them. By talking about it they can find ways to reduce it. Who knows, you might be able to help take something off their plate or make sure they find time for self-care.
What if the person feeling stressed is you?
Supporting your Body and Managing Stress
Remember, you are not alone in feeling stressed. On top of all the usual stressors like work, kids and even our spouses, the world has seemed a lot more stressful for many. Managing stress is more important than ever. I hear you – you can’t get rid of some of your stresses. You can manage how you handle them and support your body.
Find Ways to Reduce Stress – Take time for self-care and find ways to reduce stress. Mental stress isn’t the only stress on our body. There are also traumas and toxins. Make sure you aren’t exposing your body to extra physical stressors and be sure to get regular chiropractic adjustments.
Connect with Others – Maybe you need someone to listen to you! Make sure you are making time to spend with those you care about and make memories.
But also Disconnect- The news and the social media scroll isn’t helping your stress if you are always on. You need to stay informed, but you can give yourself permission to take time to disconnect. You can also set parameters, so you don’t fall victim to the mindless scroll.
Exercise – I know the last thing you want to do is exercise but exercise can help. It gets endorphins up and how do you feel after exercising? You won’t regret it!
Get your Z’s – Your body heals when you sleep and not getting enough sleep can add a lot of stress to your body. Follow tips for better sleep and take that stress off your body.
Spend Time Outside – Spend some time at the beach or outdoors for stress-busting benefits. Studies show spending time in nature can reduce anxiety and negativity. Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression. (3) A healthy dose of vitamin D will boost your mood.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is normal but don’t stay there! It is bad for your health which only leads to more stress. That’s how important health is, and you can support your body by testing for any physical stressors.
Remember you aren’t alone. There are many others who are stressed but the is also The Wellness Way network of doctors and community of others supporting each other on this journey. Work on managing your stress because not only will you be happier, but you will be healthier.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Learn more about stress in this video with Dr. Patrick Flynn: