Read through the Quick Assessment to the Right. As you do, how many are you experiencing now, or have in the recent past? If you answered “Yes” to several of these challenges, it is very likely you are experiencing a significant amount of stress. Excess stress can negatively impact almost every area of your life.
Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human disease and illness, and 3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments (American Institute of Stress). These health problems include gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep problems, muscles tension, headaches, fatigue, stroke, and more. Signs of stress can include anxiety, changes in eating, irritability, sleep disturbance, and mood changes. It is also common for those under significant stress to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drug or alcohol use, poor diet, smoking, and inactivity as attempts to manage their stress. Ironically, these behaviors often lead to experiencing more stress. One out of five Americans report experiencing extreme stress (heart palpitations, depression, and shaking), and 44% of Americans feel more stress today than they did five years ago (AIS).
Although stress is a normal part of life, that can help us grow, it can also cause significant emotional and physical problems. The longer stress impacts your life, the more damaging it is on your body, and your mind. There are effective treatments to reduce the experience of stress that include understanding how you experience stress, identifying sources of stress, learning your stress signals and ways in which you deal with stress, finding healthy ways to manage stress, taking care of yourself, and getting support from other sources. For many the most effective treatment is a combination of these.
If you are under a high amount of stress, know you can change it. Often there are ways to not only manage the stress you experience, but also ways to decrease the level of stress you experience.
- As if you have little or no control over the events in your life
- Things keep piling up no matter how hard you work
- Overwhelmed and you do not know why
- That you are less patient than you used to be
- You can never get ahead
- That you have an inadequate support system
- Decreased joy or sense of well-being