One of the most common complaints among individuals is stress. In a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association, 42% of individuals surveyed reported that their stress levels have increased over the previous 5 years, while 36% say their stress has stayed the same. Stress at work, stress at school, stress at home – It’s everywhere, and it’s impacting our lives in a multitude of ways. Stressed workers perform less efficiently. Individuals who experience chronic stress in their daily lives report sleep problems, interpersonal issues, and physical symptoms like fatigue and headaches.
These physical symptoms just scratch the surface, however. A recent study by the Society of Biological Psychiatry has shown that stress and the resulting anger, anxiety, and depression can affect the heart and its healthy function. Stress can also lead to digestive issues, including IBS, as well as increased weight gain. Stress has been shown to have a direct correlation to decreased energy and mood, dizziness, panic and irritability – The list goes on, and impacts the bulk of Americans on a daily basis.
Moreover, individuals widely report they are not managing their stress, in spite of a large percentage of individuals saying they want to reduce their overall stress levels. What is the best way to manage stress? The Mayo Clinic recommends physical activity, including yoga and tai chi, to help reduce stress, as well as getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Other techniques suggested include meditation, relaxation techniques, avoiding tobacco and reducing caffeine intake. Alcohol should also be imbibed only in moderation.
Overwhelmingly, medical professionals recommend regular exercise to help reduce stress and its effects, but it can have other amazing effects as well, including improved sleep, mood, and self-confidence. It can help reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer, as well as reduce the risk of an early death by up to 30%. Seems like a great argument for breaking out the walking shoes, or hopping on a bike!