Sleeping well, eating your 5 a day, and staying physically active are unquestionable components of a healthy lifestyle. However, it's important to recognize the impact of stress on health as well. Chronic exposure to stress and interindividual differences in susceptibility to stress are associated with detrimental health consequences, encompassing short and long-term physiological, physical, and psychological problems. Just as we prioritize healthy habits like nutrition and exercise, it's essential to prioritize stress management for a healthy lifestyle. That's why April has been recognized as National Stress Awareness Month since 1992, to bring attention to the negative impacts of stress. The maintenance of life is critically dependent on keeping our interstitial fluid and its physiological capacity to ensure protective stability for tissues and organs of multicellular organisms known as the internal milieu. Keeping our internal milieu constant in a changing environment is known as homeostasis. Stress represents anything that seriously threatens our homeostasis. The perceived threat is a stressor, and our body produces a physiological response to deal with the stressor, which can be advantageous to us. However, if the stress persists, it becomes a threat to our health. For example, long-term stress can cause elevated blood pressure levels, weaken the immune system, and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The relationship between stress and health is complex and can be affected by the nature, number, and persistence of the stressors, as well as the individual's biological vulnerability, learned patterns of coping, and socioeconomic status. Effective coping mechanisms are crucial for minimizing the adverse effects of stress on health. Coping strategies can impact the relationship between stress and health, potentially reducing the negative impacts of stress. Therefore, developing appropriate coping mechanisms for your stress is monumental for a healthy lifestyle. Stress is currently ubiquitous among younger generations. According to recent studies:
· 60% of young people (aged 18 to 24) have felt so stressed by the pressure to succeed that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
· 47% of young people have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
· 57% of young people have felt so stressed because of fear of making mistakes they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
These statistics show that pressures to succeed, look good, and be perfect are a prominent cause of stress among younger generations. The effects of stress on well-being are demonstrated by the following statistics:
· 39% of young people said they had experienced suicidal feelings because of stress.
· 29% of young people said they had self-harmed because of high-stress levels.
Therefore, establishing effective coping strategies for stress is essential to minimize detrimental consequences to health. While taking a break from what's stressing you out and participating in hobbies and physical activities can help, there are many more strategies to consider. For example, mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing or meditation can be incredibly helpful. Simply taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and clear your mind can be a powerful stress-reducing tool. Additionally, you might try journaling or talking with a therapist or trusted friend. There are also many excellent apps and books available to help with stress management.
Finally, it's worth noting that while stress is an inevitable part of life, it's important to recognize when it's becoming unmanageable. If you're feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, it's essential to seek help. Don't hesitate to talk with a healthcare professional or mental health provider if you're struggling with stress or any other mental health concern. Remember, managing stress is crucial for overall health and well-being, and it's never too late to start prioritizing your mental wellness.
Here are some examples of what members of our Elevate team do to cope with stress:
Here's a valuable tip from Muhammad Zeeshan, a clinical mental health therapist in Colorado, USA, and Founder of Rozarte - a start-up dedicated to improving mental wellness and community building. Alongside the coping mechanisms discussed earlier, finding activities that bring you joy and happiness can be a vital tool in maintaining good mental health. For instance, Zeeshan practices meditation, breathing exercises, and occasionally goes for a run or walk depending on his mood. He emphasizes the importance of being kind to oneself and practicing self-care. Besides, he involves himself in activities he loves, such as watching Manchester United play, which brings him instant happiness and joy. Zeeshan recommends that everyone should find activities that work for them and incorporate them into their self-care routine. As Elevate Mentor, Zeeshan suggests, finding joy and happiness in activities can promote mental wellness. It could be anything from playing a musical instrument, reading a book, painting, or gardening. The key is to find something that you genuinely enjoy and make time for it regularly. By doing so, you can manage stress, reduce anxiety, and improve your overall well-being. Remember, prioritizing your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, so make sure to make it a part of your daily routine.
Written by Emma Symonds (Content Creator at ELEVATE)