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10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

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10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

It’s officially springtime. With the longer days, warmer temperatures, and blooming flowers, sometimes it feels like all the stress of the world can wash away. Yet, stress continues to be a large part of life year-round. And it can impact any of us.

According to a report by the American Psychological Association (APA), around three-quarters of adults experience health impacts due to stress in the prior month, including headache (38%), and fatigue (35%) in 2022. For over a quarter of U.S. adults, stress prevents them from functioning. Stress negatively affected behavior (49%) and increased tension in bodies (21%) among Americans, according to a report by SingleCare.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, raising awareness of the negative health effects of stress. Due to the pervasive nature of stress, it's crucial to find effective ways to manage it, so that you can enjoy the season and continue to live healthy. Here are ten healthy strategies to help you cope with stress.

Common Health Effects of Stress

The impact of stress extends beyond momentary feelings of anxiety or unease; it can have long-term effects on your physical health. Chronic stress has been linked to a host of health issues, including cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and various gastrointestinal problems like gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The mechanisms behind these associations involve the body's stress response system, which, when activated persistently, can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This highlights the importance of managing stress not just for mental well-being but also to maintain physical health.

Stress can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and slowing down recovery times from illness or injury. It also plays a significant role in mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and can contribute to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Understanding the potential health implications of unmanaged stress underscores the need for proactive stress management strategies. By taking steps to manage stress effectively, individuals can not only improve their quality of life but also reduce their risk of developing a range of severe health conditions.

Healthy Strategies for Managing Stress

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health. Setting aside a few minutes daily to practice mindfulness or meditation can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety.

Regular Physical Activity

Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. It not only improves your physical health but also increases endorphins, your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters. Physical exercise can also lower your blood pressure, improve circulation, and strengthen the heart muscles. Whether it's a brisk walk, yoga, or a more intense workout, find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your routine.

Healthy Eating Habits

Your diet plays a crucial role in how you feel. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can provide the energy you need and may reduce the symptoms of stress.

RELATED: You Are What You Eat: Achieving Your Nutrition Resolutions

Adequate Sleep

Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Connect with Others

Social support is vital. Spending time with friends and family can provide emotional support and help you navigate stressful times. Don't hesitate to share your feelings with someone you trust.

Limit Screen Time and Social Media

Excessive exposure to screens and social media can increase stress. Set limits on your screen time, especially before bed, to help you unwind and improve your sleep quality. According to studies, the average person in the U.S. spends nearly 7 hours of screen time per day, while the recommended amount is less than 2 hours per day.

Learn to Say No

Overcommitting can lead to stress. It's essential to recognize your limits and be okay with saying no to additional responsibilities when you're already stretched thin.

Pursue Hobbies

Engaging in hobbies you love can be a great way to relieve stress. Whether it's reading, gardening, painting, or playing music, hobbies offer a break from daily stressors and enrich your life.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

If you find it challenging to manage stress on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy can provide you with strategies to cope with stress effectively.

Regular Health Checkups

Sometimes, physical health issues can contribute to stress. Regular checkups can help identify any health concerns early on, giving you peace of mind and reducing stress related to health anxieties.

RELATED: Spring Into Action: Women's Health Prevention and Screening

Understanding Stress in America

It’s important to note that not all stress is bad. Eustress can positively impact our mental health and overall well-being. However, the opposite, distress, can negatively impact our lives and is the type of stress that can lead to adverse health effects.

The landscape of stress in America has evolved over the years. In 2023, a quarter of adults rated their average stress between eight and ten, up from 19% in 2019, reflecting the lasting impact of collective trauma and stress recovery efforts. Moreover, about 3 in 5 adults, both in the U.S. (56%) and globally (62%), say that stress affected their daily lives at least once in the past year.

The workplace remains a significant source of stress, with 55% of Americans reporting being stressed during the day, and about one in three people feel extreme amounts of stress regularly. These statistics underscore the importance of adopting healthy stress management techniques and fostering a supportive community to navigate through challenging times together.

Stress Management and Care from Antelope Valley Medical Center

Managing stress is crucial for both your physical and mental well-being. By incorporating these tips into your life, along with regular health checkups, you can create a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

At Antelope Valley Medical Center, we have specialty care services available to help you find the best strategies for managing your stress and creating healthy lifestyle choices. Antelope Valley Medical Center is here with all the care you need.

Visit us online or give us a call at (661) 949-5000 to learn more about our services.