Stress has long been an issue with modern families. In fact, it has been called America’s number one health problem. Yet, this isn’t new. On June 6, 1983, Time Magazine published an issue where the cover read, “Stress: The Epidemic of the Eighties.” So, at least since the early eighties, stress has been recognized as a major health risk for American families. In 1996, a Prevention magazine survey showed that 75 percent believe they have “great stress” one day a week. This is up from 55 percent in 1983. Job stress is one of the main factors, but stress is increased for children, teenagers and college students due to increased violence, crime and peer pressures toward substance abuse or unhealthy habits. With the digital world, more people are in isolation, which prevents stress fighters such has having strong social support.
Causes of Stress
Stress affects people in different ways, and we all have varying stress triggers. Yet, 50 percent of working Americans say that work is their biggest form of stress. Harris Interactive conducted their third annual Work Stress Survey on behalf of Everest College. After polling 1,019 Americans by phone, they found that 83 percent were stressed at work. The previous year it was 73 percent. Only 17 percent said their jobs do not cause them stress.
Survey spokesman John Swartz said, “More companies are hiring, but workers are still weary and stressed out from years of a troubled economy that has brought about longer hours, layoffs and budget cuts. Americans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but anxiety among employees is rooted into our working lives, and it is important to understand new and better ways of coping with the pressure.”
The number one reason for stress was low compensation with an overwhelming workload. While stress can motivate you to get things done, you also want to manage it properly so that it does not interrupt your family life, job and health. Many times, Americans admit that stress causes them to fight with friends and family members. Some of the causes of stress include:
- Dissatisfaction with your job
- Working too much
- No opportunity to make decisions at your place of work
- No clear path for advancement
- Death of a loved one
- Chronic illness
- Taking care of the elderly
- Traumatic event (Theft, rape, violence, natural disasters)
Other forms of stress include:
- Fear of terror attacks, toxic chemicals and extreme weather patterns
- Consistent changes
- Financial setbacks
- Your world view
What stress does to your health
If you have lost your job, stress can cause you to proactively look for another one. On the other hand, stress can affect you physically because your body releases hormones that make you breath faster, produce sweat and a more rapid heartbeat. This is called short-term, acute stress. Chronic stress is what causes health problems. Short term stress can cause:
- Lack of concentration
If stress is more long term, you might experience:
- Issues with fertility
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- High blood pressure
- Upset stomach
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
Manage your stress
In order to create a more stress-free environment, you want to start by evaluating your lifestyle. Taking walks and regular exercise are well-known stress busters. Eating healthy also helps because you are less worried about seeing the doctor for obesity or unhealthy eating habits. You want to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I overeat when I’m stressed?
- Do I drink when I’m stressed?
- How can I improve my stress coping skills?
Don’t be afraid to talk about it
We all need a strong support system. If you don’t have anyone to talk to at home, there are many affordable choices for seeing a therapist online or in person. It no longer costs an arm and a leg to see a professional, nor is there any stigma attached. Open communication and problem solving are critical to eliminating stress.
Make yourself a priority
This doesn’t mean you become completely self-absorbed and selfish. This is about making the decision to take better care of yourself. Get your vitamins, physical activity and enough sleep. Save fast food for emergency or rare occasions. Try to limit TV watching and video-game playing or social media use. Get outside, get some sun, interact with real people. Spend time with your family participating in activities such as a bike ride, golf, tennis or a board game.
Mothers can feel stressed by working full time, then coming home to tend to their families’ needs. Make sure everyone is open about what stresses them out the most and work towards finding a solution. Yet, you don’t want to overextend yourself by making multiple changes at once–that would only add to your stress. Instead, make one change at a time.
Stress doesn’t have to consume your life. It is an American problem, but it is also a global problem. With mounting amounts of stress, you must find a way to overcome it. The above tips can help you do so in order to have a more enjoyable and healthy life.