The 2018 data provided by Statistics Canada on perceived life stress, is concerning in my opinion. By age group, male and female, the stats are:
12-17 Years 309,200
18-34 Years 1,852,800
35-39 Years 2,109,600
50-54 Years 1,667,800
The stats that particularly struck me is that our young people are under far more stress than what I would have expected. I would have thought they would not as burdened by stress but when I think about it, they are under increasing stress in many areas of their lives, school, work and definitely on a social level. While the statistics for people 65 and older are quite a bit lower compared to the other age groups, it still means that people who have retired and who should have less stress in their lives are still under stress.
What does this all mean and what is causing us to see work, life stress and burnout reaching epidemic proportions in the 21st century?
Studies show that today’s employees are under more pressure than ever, with 65% of people citing work as the top source of stress in their lives. The toxic combination of excessive workloads, long hours and not being able to turn off the 'on switch' means that many workers face a dangerous level of stress.
In addition to damaging performance, stress can also have a negative effect on our mental health and increase the risk of depression, anxiety and burnout. It can also extend beyond the workplace and into our personal lives, with many people taking out their stress on friends, children, parents or life partners. Not only this, but stress can also take a toll on our physical health. In fact, one study revealed that up to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are caused by stress.
The symptoms of stress make up a very long list when it comes to our mental, physical, emotional and behavioural state.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Negative outlook on life
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- General moodiness
- Irritability or short temper
- Agitation, anger, and the inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed with life
- Feeling lonely and isolated
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Aches and pains in the body
- Diarrhea or constipation, bowel problems
- Nausea, dizziness, vertigo
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, pounding of the heart
- Loss of sex drive Frequent colds or flu viruses
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting life’s responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax, or in excess Nervous habits
Clearly, we need to work on more preventative measures to avoid the debilitating and sometimes fatal outcomes of being under too much stress. A few things that you can do to start alleviating your stress:
Track Your Stressors
Keep a journal and note down the situations that create the most stress and how you respond to them. Doing this might help you identify patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them. Commit to reducing 1 area of stress at a time.
Talk It Out
Arrange a meeting with your employer, HR manager or health nurse to create and collaborate on a stress management plan. If you feel you can’t approach your employer, find another trusted person you can speak to. Sometimes talking out loud about your feelings will help you to take the first step to get your work and life back under control.
Set Work-Life Boundaries
This might be easier said than done but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by starting somewhere. Learn how to say no to unreasonable requests or more demands for your time. Take a break from social media. Schedule some downtime in your calendar. Reconnect with friends and loved ones, ask them for help.
Start An Exercise Plan or Get Back to Your Exercise Plan.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Improve Your Diet and Get More Sleep
A healthy diet, low in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, can promote health and reduce stress. Get adequate sleep: A good night's sleep makes you able to tackle the day's stress more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which can increase stress.
Find Your Secret Sanctuary and Go There
We all have places and activities that make us feel better and it is especially important when you are under stress to make time to connect with places, people and activities that can help reduce your stress. For some, it might be swimming or sailing or going for a walk in the park, maybe painting or photography. Whatever it is, take the time to go there, it will help you more than you know.
I am very passionate about the topic of stress and burnout because I experienced burnout and it took me over a year to recover. Since that time I have worked tirelessly to learn, research and create programs to help others prevent burnout and or recover from it.
For more information on how you can reduce your daily stress and lead a more balanced life, you can contact me anytime for a courtesy consultation at https://jennifergrantinternational.com/book-a-consultation