According to the American Psychological Association, adults in America are experiencing stress levels that aren’t good for their health. Using a 10-point scale where 10 indicated the most stress and 1 indicated little to no stress, survey respondents reported an average stress level of 5.1, even though they perceive a 3.8 rating to be healthy.
How can you spot the signs that the chaos of everyday life has become too much? Keep an eye out for these symptoms of unmanaged stress.
Everyone faces stress at some point in their life. When it is left unmanaged, there may be both physical and mental health consequences. Learn more about the symptoms of unmanaged stress and glean a few ideas for coping well.
Become Aware of The Effects of Stressors
Is Stress Always Bad?
It isn’t always a negative thing to experience stressors in life. A big change, like starting a new job or adding a child to the family, may be celebrated but still feel stressful at the same time.
Ultimately, it is the response to these events that matters the most. For individuals who have healthy coping skills and a strong support system, it may be easier to experience the challenges in life as positive events. Others may not be as equipped, facing consequences to their mental and physical health.
There are certainly plenty of negative stressors in life, like job loss, illness and conflict. It is normal to experience these events as difficult and emotionally taxing.
The Consequences of Unmanaged Stress
In response to unmanaged stress, some individuals may experience changes to their behaviors. Irritability, anger and depression are common emotional responses when life feels like too much. It may be difficult to focus on work or carry out tasks at home.
There are health consequences, too. Excessive hardship and the anxiety that comes with it can cause increased blood pressure, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Research has also made a connection between chronic stress, the flare-ups of autoimmune disorders and chronic disease. It is common to experience a loss of sleep, headaches and muscle pain when overly stressed. Unhealthy coping skills, like giving up exercise, overeating, drinking too much alcohol or turning to smoking in response to unmanaged stress could create further health problems.
Learning to Manage Stress
When life throws intense circumstances our way, it is helpful to have a plan for keeping stress under control. When possible and beneficial, eliminate unnecessary stressors from your life. This could mean setting strict boundaries with family members who create conflict or scaling back at work.
When stress cannot be avoided, it is a good idea to have a set of reliable coping skills in mind. Prioritize daily exercise and healthy eating. Since it is nearly impossible to keep a level head while under stress when you’ve underslept, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene. Visit with a counselor to talk through emotions that could trigger unhealthy habits, such as drinking or smoking.
Find time for self-care activities that are calming. Going for a walk can help clear your head. Read a book as a break from the chaos of everyday life. Spend time with your loved ones and make sure you’re honest with them when you need a little extra help.
Meditation has been found to be an effective means for dealing with stress. An intentional morning or evening practice for ten minutes each day can set the foundation for learning how to use meditation on the go to lower anxiety and increase focus on the task at hand. One amazing resource for beginners are the free guided meditations provided by ULCA.
It isn’t always possible to change our life circumstances. However, when we prepare ourselves for stress with coping skills and healthy daily habits, we can face difficult circumstances with resilience.
~ Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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