We’ve been talking a great deal about stress on the blog lately, and with good reason.
According to a recent poll from Kaiser Family Foundation, 46% of women and 33% of men said the fear of COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health, and among adults who have experienced income or job loss due to the pandemic, 46% reported that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health too.
Stress can also impact those currently working from home, as adults juggle their own workload with the needs of school-aged children who are participating in distance-learning.
And unfortunately, that escalating stress not only impacts a person’s physical and emotional health, it can also interfere with productivity and performance at work.
How you deal with your stress can mean the difference between success and failure at work.
It can also impact how you show up in your relationships with others, your daily mood, and health matters such as blood pressure and normal cardiac function.
Stress: An Old Friend
Unfortunately, stress was a rising health issue long before COVID-19.
Annually, the Australian Psychology Society (APS) conducts a survey to help understand the factors impacting the wellbeing of Australians. From 2011 to 2015, the APS conducted a Stress and Wellbeing Survey, and the findings were quite eye-opening. The symptoms of anxiety and depression among Australians increased over the five year period of the survey, continuously reaching a higher and higher peak.
According to several leading research organizations, 3 out of 4 doctor visits are stress-related in America, and 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago. In Great Britain, stress accounted for 37% of all work-related health issues.
Stress certainly isn’t a new issue, but unfortunately, it’s not one most of us have learned to effectively manage.
In fact, the simple reason as to why stress is on the rise wherever you look is this: people aren’t properly taking care of themselves anymore.
Why is Stress So Prevalent?
Society at large has become incredibly results-oriented, as people are pushing themselves beyond their limits in order to get ahead, get on top, and get further than ever before. For many, their mantra is ‘go, go, go’ without ever stopping or taking pause for rest, which can be a very dangerous approach.
For one, when mind and body are burnt out, you’re no longer able to produce your best work, but more importantly, you put yourself at further risk for health issues, which in turn only keeps you from accomplishing your goals.
So how can we combat stress and live a healthier lifestyle where our mental health is a priority?
Dealing with Stress in Healthy Ways
It’s all about balance and self care—two topics, in fact, that are now the foundation for my Balance and Self Care Program.
This unique course helps you determine your true priorities and needs so that your self care plan includes the actions and activities that make you stronger, healthier, and happier.
The course also guides you through assessing your true current state of self care. Are you barely skating by with the basics such as doctor appointments? Do you know how stress shows up in your life? What do your relationships look like? Those questions and more tell you where you need to begin.
For some, self care might seem like a foreign concept.
We’re so used to going as fast as possible until the point when we’re running on empty.
But this only eventually leads to burnout, which puts us in a highly ineffective state and which can also be damaging to our personal relationships and sense of self worth.
For those who are new to self care or don’t know where to start, it can be as simple as simply taking a personal day.
In many faith traditions, there’s the concept of a ‘Sabbath’, wherein observers abstain from work of any kind. It’s something every individual should embrace.
As human beings, we have our mental and physical limits. It’s a complete disservice to our wellbeing to work nonstop around-the-clock. Eventually, this type of approach will catch up to you and can very often lead to negative outcomes (anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart issues).
When we take a personal day or Sabbath, however, we give our mind and body a chance to breathe and recuperate from the work week. In fact, many creative types will assert that it’s in the moments when they’ve stepped away from their desk, when they’re not creating, that their best ideas come to them. When we take a step back from the puzzle and switch our focus to something else, the wheels in our brain start turning in new directions, rewarding us with new concepts and approaches.
More than this, personal days allow us to return to the work week refreshed, restored, and rejuvenated. They give us the time and space to catch up on sleep, to spend time with loved ones, and to pursue the hobbies that bring us joy. When we focus on our wellbeing in this manner, we strengthen ourselves against stress and become happier individuals.
Do you already practice the habit of taking a personal day each week? Give it a try. You may just be surprised by the difference it makes.
And if you’d like to learn more about effective ways to create a self care routine that prioritizes work/life balance, be sure to check out our Balance and Self Care Program.