It’s natural and unavoidable to feel stressed at times. This might include worry, anxiety and grief. In August 2022, more than 32% of adults in the United States reported feeling symptoms of anxiety or depression in the last two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recognizing symptoms and practicing coping strategies is vital, as stress can impact every aspect of health. If not managed, it can lead to changes in appetite, problems concentrating and sleeping, headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and worsening of chronic diseases and mental health conditions. An increased use of alcohol or illegal drugs and a misuse of prescription drugs also may result.
Addressing stress can be tougher than it sounds when it is attached to everyday activities such as work, homelife or a number of other factors that are inseparable from people’s day-to-day lives. Experts recommend first identifying that stress and talking through it. Individuals can consider the pieces they can change and plan around those, rather than focusing on elements not in their control.
According to the CDC, healthy stress management can include taking breaks from news stories, like those seen while scrolling social media. Checking in on the news a couple times a day might be reasonable, but disconnecting for longer periods can be helpful.
Other recommendations are:
• Taking care of your body by eating healthy, exercising and getting adequate sleep.
• Limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoking and drugs.
• Participating in activities you enjoy and spending time outside.
• Joining community or faith-based organizations.
• Maintaining bonds with family and friends.
• Talking through your concerns and feelings.
Another piece of advice may seem simple, but isn’t common. It involves taking short breaks in the day. Even 10 minutes can help, says the CDC. This break might be active, with a walk or a dance, or it might involve simply closing your eyes or thinking about three things for which you are grateful.
If symptoms of stress become overwhelming and interrupt daily functions, it’s important to seek professional help. A primary care physician is a good first step.