"If you are distressed by any external thing, it is not this thing which disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now." - Author Unknown
Let's face it. Stress is really hurting us. If you don't think so, read the following statistics from the American Psychological Association.
Three quarters of Americans experience symptoms related to stress in a given month:
77% experience physical symptoms
73% experience psychological symptoms.
One-third of Americans feel they are living with extreme stress.
About half of Americans (48%) feel that their stress has increased over the past five years.
Money and work are the leading causes of stress (mentioned by three quarters of Americans).
Physical symptoms of stress include: fatigue (51%); headache (44%); upset stomach (34%); muscle tension (30%); change in appetite (23%); teeth grinding (17%); change in sex drive (15%); feeling dizzy (13%).
Psychological effects of stress include: experiencing irritability or anger (50%); feeling nervous (45%); lack of energy (45%); feeling as though you could cry (35%).
About half of Americans (48%) report lying awake at night due to stress.
Stress impacts lives in a dramatic way:
About one half of Americans say that stress has a negative impact on both their personal and professional lives.
About one-third (31%) of employed adults have difficulty managing work and family responsibilities.
Over one third (35%) cite jobs interfering with their family or personal time as a significant source of stress.
Stress causes more than half of Americans (54 percent) to fight with people close to them.
One in four people report that they have been alienated from a friend or family member because of stress.
8% connect stress to divorce or separation.
Workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress-reduction.
I'm stressed out just reading this.
So, what do we do? Here are some tips.
Before a stressful event, mentally prepare by mentally viewing the movie of what you want to have happen. View the worst that can happen and you'll be prepared for it.
Know when to take a breather and take it. There are times when I feel really stressed, I remove myself from the situation and go sit on the toilet and just breathe. Simply physically leaving a situation is helpful. So is some deep breathing.
Address the most urgent needs first. Ask yourself, "What is the most important this I need to do in this moment?” When you get your answer, simply do it. Get it over with.
Find a hobby. Finding something that forces you to focus in deep concentration and be fully present in the moment helps alleviate stress. Doing something that has no deadlines, no pressures is relaxing. Get in the flow.
Stop holding yourself to a strict 'should' list. Ask yourself "Will this matter one month from today?” “Will it make me happy?” If the answer is "No”...let it go.
Shut your tech stuff off. Really. For a few hours, at least. They can wait. You are not that important.
Get out in nature for a while, or just look at this picture of my dog, Maggie, and I at the beach:
Be cool. Remember a past situation where you were stressed out, but handled it all with grace and finesse. A situation where you were cool? Remember this situation when faced with a stressful one. Then, act as if you are cool. Better yet… Just be cool.
"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency." ~Natalie Goldberg
So stop being ignorant. Certain things can wait. Educate yourself on what works for you to keep your stress level low.