A survey released this year (conducted by a company in the UK) revealed shocking statistics that made it clear that we, as a nation, need to get control of our stress levels. So many people in Britain are really, really stressed and it seems we are stressed about nearly everything in our lives. The survey revealed that:
- 85% of adults are feeling stressed regularly
- Over a third of us feel stressed at least 24 hours a week
- Money is what causes us the most stress
- Other common stress factors include: work, health, lack of sleep, and household jobs to get done
- 39% of adults feel too stressed every day
- Over half of those who did the survey were concerned that stress was affecting their health
The survey also interestingly revealed that overall women are more stressed than men, and women are most stressed about money, whereas men are most stressed about work.
These figures are shocking, but you don’t have to look far to find similar statistics in lots of different studies and reports because the news isn’t new: everyone is stressed.
With this in mind, it is important to understand that in order to avoid illness and to actually have some quality of life, we all need to take a breather and find some balance. Ongoing stress can never be a good thing, particularly if your ability to deal with it is low. Stress can damage your friendships, your personal relationships, your performance at work, it can make you anxious, and even depressed. It can even negatively affect your physical health.
The NHS says that some symptoms of stress can be, but or not limited to:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling irritable
- Feel anxious
- Suffering from low self esteem
- Struggling with a mind full of racing thoughts
- Worrying a lot
- Feeling indecisive
- Muscle aches
- Problems with eating too much or too little
- Leaning on bad habits more
Stress can also contribute to a risk of scary health issues like heart diseases or strokes. The University Of Rochester released information from medical professionals that confirmed that an increase in cortisol, which is released when we are stressed, can build up and increase cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. They are all key risk factors for heart disease and an increase in those things can also lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries which means we are at a higher risk of a stroke.
So, the evidence is there, stress makes you feel rubbish and could make you feel a lot more rubbish in the future. So, what are you going to do about it?
Please, don’t feel like stress rules you, because there are so many things you can do to not only minimise the stress but also to maximise your ability to deal with the stress that comes your way. Take a look at these tips to help you get started with your lower stress life:
Get Your Diet Right
In this really interesting article by The Guardian, you can read about how studies have shown a really clear link between diet and mood. Interestingly, people under 30 who eat fast food 3 times a week suffer from higher level mental distress than those who don’t. It also showed that mood improvement after eating a more balanced and healthy diet began to show after just two weeks. You could find you are much more relaxed and able to deal with stress just by changing the way you eat, how neat is that.
Sort Out Your Career
Work is a top stress factor for many of us. What is it that causes you stress? Do you feel like you could achieve more in another career or with another company? Are you struggling with your relationship with your colleagues? Do you feel like your work life balance is totally off? Remember that you choose your job, and you have a choice over where your career takes you. Close your eyes and think hard about a more relaxed and happy you and what job you are doing and that may help you think about the next steps you need to take to have a less stressful, and more fulfilling career.
Most people feel worse in the day if they haven’t slept properly. A lack of sleep can also cause you to feel more on edge and more grumpy and so less able to deal with stress. Stress can in itself cause you not to be able to sleep, and then you might get stressed because of the difficulty sleeping and it can turn into a nasty cycle. This article by Sleep.org explains the issue in detail, and the website has a ton of tips on how you can improve your sleep quality.
Let Some Stress Out
Exercise, meditation and mindfulness can all help to relieve stress. You might also have your own special way to release stress from your body. It might even be as simple as writing down things you need to do the next day, so they are on paper and not whizzing round in your mind. Prioritise your health and happiness and make time for some stress-relieving activities, so that it isn’t building up and causing you harm.
Get Your Finances In Order
It seems pretty much every survey or study shows that a key stress factor is financial worries. Financial stress can come in many forms depending on your life. Maybe you have slipped into debt, perhaps your business finances are a bit haywire and you need some additional help such as invoice discounting to overcome the highs and lows of business activity, or maybe you’re only just making ends meet with your career. The very first step is addressing those problems and understanding that you can change things for the better, whatever that means for you. Once you face up to things, everything gets easier from there. Some things that could be useful when sorting your finances are:
- Debt support organisations like National Debtline
- Getting financial advice for your business from an accountant, or looking into additional financial support like angel investing, invoice discounting or traditional bank loans
- Looking at some useful self accounting apps and technology
- Using websites like Money Savings Expert
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it – Lou Holtz
Stress will always be in your life because, stress is a natural part of life. However, you can control how much effort you make to release that stress, how many changes you make to minimise stress in your life, and most importantly, what you do to ensure that you can handle the stress that does come your way. You are in control, and you can have a less stressful life, it all starts with a few steps towards change.