In the United States and around the world, the month of April each year is celebrated as Stress Awareness Month. Interestingly, April is also well known for its spring weather. With April now behind us, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on stress and share some tips on how we can untangle ourselves from stress and live a stress-free life.
The stress awareness month is a month when health professionals show the statistics and percentages of people who reported stress-related mental or physical illnesses. The American Family Care notes that it is important to learn how to cope with stress and to deal with stressful situations in order to live a long and healthy life. The health professionals had joined forces every April to have the country be aware of the causes of stress and the treatments for stress.
During the past year, no thanks to COVID-19 that ravaged the world, there had been an increased percentage of depression or anxiety disorder caused by stress, which suddenly increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The age group that had the largest increase in stress is 18-29 years old. At the beginning of 2020, it increased to 8%. This includes those who do not have a high school diploma. Mental health treatments also increased during this time. During the past year, it has increased from 22.4% to 24.8%. Mental health needs also suddenly increased from 9.2% to 11.7%; this includes people that were in the age group from 18-59. During the past year, the percentage of mental health needs increased by 23.8% and increased by 2.8% says the CDC.
There are three types of stress, including acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress, says the Mind Body Green (MBG) Health. Acute stress is when the individual is burdened by high stress by fleeting moments such as public speaking or meeting in the boss’s office. The signs of acute stress are high heart rate, tense muscles, strong emotions, and shortness of breath. Episodic acute stress is similar to acute stress, but due to increased frequency, it takes its toll on the body. It is from intensely stressful events such as tight deadlines or moving on from one crisis to another. Chronic stress is a constant experience over a long period of time, such as finances, trauma, or racism. It is when the body is flooded with stress hormones causing sleep trouble, reduced immune function, and a negative effect on cardiovascular health, according to MBG experts.
There are many ways to help with stress, such as exercising. The Mayo Clinic asserts that exercises can lower stress hormones and release endorphins, which improve your mood and a natural pain reliever. It can also improve your sleep and boosts your self-confidence. There are many exercises that you can try out that can be a good fit for you. There is yoga, zumba, walking, cycling, or dancing, adds experts from Mayo Clinic.
Stress relief can also include spending time with friends and family, spending time with your pets, laughing, reducing your caffeine intake, deep breathing (meditation), listen to soothing music, practicing mindfulness (be optimistic), avoid procrastination, avoid watching television, write your thoughts and feelings down, and take a bubble bath, according to Mayo Clinic experts.
Every person in the world, including me, sometimes goes through a stress point in their lives. I used to be a “stress-eater” due to my anxiety and stress situations. This has led me to exercises for at least 30 minutes and meditation for 10 minutes a day. These gradually increased my positive outlook in my life and boosts my self-confidence.
My last point for you all is to try not to make stress take over your life, learn how to sit back and relax even if it’s for a couple of minutes. Life is too short to worry over something that’s not going to last forever. People should take hikes with loved ones and learn to think positively.
Written By Chelsea Whittington is a volunteer with the Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. working under the mentorship of Kanisha Blake, BS, MPH.