Author: Gurpreet Sandhu As a college student, I hear the phrase “I’m so stressed out!” so often that it no longer holds any true meaning. In a lot of cases, students wear their stress as a badge of honor, especially when exams roll by. Even in the working world, it is not uncommon for adults to take on an unhealthy amount of stress in order to meet deadlines and finish projects. In especially high stress environments, stress becomes a rallying point on which companies lay their foundation. Companies like Google even have sleep pods so that their employees can commit as many hours to their work as physically possible. But there are dangers to treating stress as an insignificant part of life.
The American Psychological Association began a survey in 2007 called Stress in America to see how adults rate their own stress levels. One trend in 2015 suggested that, on average, younger generations (particularly millennials) experience higher levels of stress than older individuals. Twenty-five percent of adults considers their own stress to be at an extreme level, rating themselves at an eight or more out of ten on the stress scale. However, the most telling statistic is that 42% of adults have experienced symptoms related to mental health as a direct result of their stress, the most common symptom of which is anxiety.
The study shows that stress has become a part of everyday life to the point that many don’t even consider it to be a health problem. But in reality, even moderate amounts of stress can have a negative impact on your long-term mental health. Ironically, personal health problems are considered to be one of the four most common sources of stress, ranking at 51% and following money (67%), work (65%), and family responsibilities (54%).
Abnormal amounts of stress have been linked to various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, and other related health issues. Studies have shown that anxiety has strong ties to the onset of initial neurological symptoms. Common symptoms include nerve pains, lightheadedness, headaches, vision problems, and fatigue. In any case, it’s better to take action early on before the symptoms of extreme stress start to appear. Here are a few tips to reduce stress with very little time commitment.
- Express yourself – Finding a strong support network can help to ease the burden, and writing in a journal has been shown to reduce stress.
- Limit self-judgment – Negative thoughts have a way of manifesting themselves in your actions. Focusing on positive goals can reduce tension and help achieve goals.
- Limit the time that you spend multitasking – Switching from one task to another can sound beneficial, but it can also decrease productivity. You can prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed by focusing on one thing at a time.
- Know and accept your limits – You are human. There’s no getting around it. It’s okay to make mistakes, but dwelling on your flaws can bring on unnecessary stress.
- Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation can lower blood pressure and pulse rates. Deep breathing and yoga are two very common methods, although massage therapy is also available for people who want to significantly lower their stress levels.
- Practice good nutrition and exercise – A diet rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables can help to lower stress, while physical activity can provide an outlet for frustration.
- Get a healthy amount of sleep – Students who get a good night’s sleep perform significantly better than those who are sleep deprived. It also assists in processing new information after you wake up.
- Make personal time each day – Finding a hobby, a new passion, or even making time for a nap can break down the clutter and provide you with a clear mind.
- Switch to decaf – Caffeine can lead to crashes throughout the day. However, if you are a heavier coffee drinker, it is recommended that you slowly wean yourself from it (reduce intake little by little) in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- Try new scents – Certain scents have shown ties to reducing stress levels. Oils from plants such as bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, and rose are both common and have soothing effects.
Even if you feel that you have your stress levels under control, you still have the ability to help others improve their well-being. However, if you or someone you know is currently suffering from neurological symptoms, it is best to seek treatment soon from a medical professional. We at Plus One Foundation hope that you find success in reducing your stress levels.
Sources: “2015 Stress in America” – American Psychological Association “Anxiety Causes Neurological Symptoms” – CalmClinic “Stress Reduction Tips” – University of New Hampshire “37 Stress Management Tips” – Reader’s Digest