For almost two decades The Health Resource Network (HRN) has sponsored National Stress Awareness Day to educate the public about the physical and psychological ramifications of stress, and to provide coping strategies with what HRN views as “our modern stress epidemic.” While stress sometimes serves as a positive motivational force (eustress), chronic stress can lead to many devastating ailments including depression, sleep disorders, headaches, loss of focus, stomach cramps, anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicidal thoughts.
With today’s constant stream of data invading our homes and mobile devices many individuals are showing signs of stress due to television or internet addiction; likewise, the current state of the U.S. economy has resulted in an increase in workplace stress for many Americans. Between the constant stimulation and never-ending demands to over-perform in our careers, taking time to relax, evaluate, and cope with our stresses is as much a necessity as brushing our teeth or washing behind our ears. Fortunately, once you have identified your need for a stress management strategy there are many activities that can help — and some of them are even fun! Diet, exercise, yoga, sleep, hobbies, and laughing all help to reduce stress levels and can also serve as great social opportunities.
Just like everyone else, I’m no stranger to stress. There was a time in my life, especially during my first marriage, when I was constantly ill and anxious. I even started to get white hairs in my mid-twenties. Luckily, I learned to manage the feelings by joining a gym and working out several times a week. And a divorce… that helped too. And although the turmoil surrounding my personal relationships has long since subsided, I’ve entered a point in my life where my workplace stress has risen exponentially. I was moved to a new position earlier this year and it has been a great honor to be entrusted with more responsibilities. I’ve loved the new experience so far, but since I’m used to being part of a team as opposed to working almost solely independently there has definitely been a learning curve when it comes to handling the stress of my tasks and deadlines. Sometimes it takes the entire hour-long ride home for my muscles to unclench — and that’s small potatoes compared to the insomnia I’ve been having — so I have become increasingly aware of my need to find a way to cope with this new stress.