Ask anyone and they’ll probably tell you that their stress levels are at an all-time high. Brought on by global health issues, economic uncertainty, and dozens of personal issues, men, women and children are suffering from emotional turmoil that’s spiraling out of control.
You don’t have to live like that anymore. It’s easy to get caught up in the barrage of stress coming at you from every angle. But if you want to take back control of your mental health and not be victimized by stress overload any longer, you can implement an action plan designed to get your life under control. Whether you’re worried about your finances, relationships, health concerns or other issues, the strategies you’ll find below will free you from the chains that are contributing to your unhappiness.
You Are Not Alone – How Stress Is Weighing Us All Down
Right now, especially since the pandemic hit, stress has negatively affected people in regards to being worried about health issues, the financial impact the pandemic and inflation has caused, and other issues that hit close to home.
Recent polls are showing that stress is on the rise, and it is negatively influencing peoples’ behavior (such as making them snap in anger), causing tension in their body, and resulting in mood swings they don’t know how to manage.
It’s not only what’s happening in the world right now, the uncertainty is also a big stress factor. Nagging questions about how things will turn out are a burden none of us should be carrying, but we are.
As far as what’s causing all this stress, in the past three years, it was the pandemic, as most people reported. But the “future of the country” has also caused great concern. Job stress is a big one, and it’s no wonder with so many changes in the workplace due to the pandemic – not to mention paychecks not going as far as they once did.
Other top stress issues are responsibilities you face as a spouse and parent as well as health issues you might be facing. And while older adults are suffering on a more regular basis, the younger generations are reporting extreme levels of stress.
Women are saying they’re more stressed than men and married women have more stress than single women. Stress is affecting a large part of the population in a negative way, and detracts from our quality of life.
How to Reduce Stress Over Money Issues
Finances are one of the most common stress factors in many individual’s lives, and it is not limited only to the poor. Even the wealthy can be suffering financial stress from poor decisions, the stock market, inflation, job loss and other situations that can wipe out someone’s financial security in an instant.
Your money stress may stem from simply not earning enough to pay your bills or afford groceries. When you pair this with soaring inflation, it can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to your mental health.
It’s natural for financial stress to emerge from time to time. But if you are feeling on edge 24/7 from money woes, you need to dig yourself out of that hole and take care of the situation so that your emotional needs are met.
One thing that will help you reduce stress over your finances is to know exactly where you stand. If you are no longer opening your bills or have not looked at your credit score, it can be worse than if you had the facts laid out in front of you.
You can start a spreadsheet that tracks exactly what your income is, and also all of your monthly expenses as well as debt that you have incurred. It may be a little unsettling to initially see the numbers in front of you.
But once you know where you are standing, it will be easier for you to create a plan to become financially resilient once again. The best way to ease stress over finances is to start cutting back on careless spending.
You will feel more guilt when you are looking at the money you need if you know you have spent it on things that shouldn’t even be in your budget, like a daily coffee at Starbucks.
Even though something like this isn’t a lot of money, it can add up. Even if you only bought a small coffee every day, that would be almost $100 you would be spending just on a single beverage each month.
The next thing you want to do when it comes to achieving peace of mind with your finances is to reach out and contact those companies that you owe money to and see what arrangements can be made to lessen your burden.
Some companies will waive penalties or change the due date for you if it will help you keep your head above water. You want to make a plan to pay off your highest interest rate debt first.
Then, find ways to earn extra money. You might sell things that you have lying around the house that you no longer use on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay.
Another thing you can do is get a side hustle such as delivering food from restaurants or grocery stores, or using your car for rideshare purposes working for companies like Uber or Lyft.
If you can’t be out of the house after your normal working hours, you can even start a business online as a freelance service provider or as an online entrepreneur who makes money by sharing good advice on a topic of your expertise.
What to If You’re Still Suffering from Pandemic Stress?
There has been a lot of fear mongering that has occurred over the past two to three years. The pandemic led people to spread misinformation from all sides, to attack one another, and to heighten their fears even if they were unfounded.
This was a health issue, but it was turned political in the process, which added even more stress to peoples’ daily lives. The stress wasn’t just about health, even though initially everyone was concerned about whether or not they would get sick or even die if they caught the coronavirus.
In the beginning stages of the pandemic, you couldn’t even get groceries without whipping out a package of disinfecting wipes and carefully cleaning every item in the bags.
Some people were masked up and some were not. Some had vaccines and others did not. Instead of everyone living their life by their own rules, which Americans have always done, you may have had to deal with people who thought differently from you confronting you about your decisions. In fact, this type of behavior still exists in some places. The fear was based on the uncertainty of what impact the unknown virus would have.
However, stress from the pandemic was more than just health related. Many people experienced stress from the isolation that they felt. Whether or not your city or state had a mandatory lockdown, many people stayed home just to be on the safe side.
The isolation and loneliness that many people felt no longer socializing in public took a toll on our society. From school kids who no longer had friends to interact with, to elderly individuals who were left to fend for themselves without family to visit them, there were very few people who were unaffected by these decisions.
Another toll that was due to the pandemic is the job stress that many have to endure. Some companies were able to morph into a telecommuting situation where you were able to work from home and continue earning a paycheck.
Other companies simply had to lay off most of their staff, and you were suddenly without a steady paycheck and had to rely on government assistance. Those that were left on the job, had to work overtime to keep everything afloat. If you were a business owner, you may have lost everything that you have worked for, which is a very stressful and heartbreaking situation.
Most people have either gone back to work or started their own business at this time, but you may still have some lingering social anxiety or health concerns that you would like to manage better.
It may help you to stay informed on ways you can protect yourself. You need to focus only on what you can control for your own life and not stress yourself out about what others are doing or not doing.
It’s one thing to stay informed and another to obsess about the pandemic. You don’t want to let it consume your life on a daily basis. Keep in mind that it’s the media’s job to inflate fear so that you will click through on their links and stay tuned to their channel, so even if the information is accurate that they are reporting, you can’t rely on it to convey the correct level of alarm.
Do World News Keep You on Edge?
News of global catastrophes have never hit us this hard before. Previously, you might hear a segment on the 5 o’clock news or keep up with the world with the Sunday newspaper. But now, global news is being shoved down your throat 24/7 on every channel and website you visit.
It’s no wonder we’re stressed! Never before have you had to hear about every country’s war, famine, crime and political chaos on a daily, if not hourly basis. And the media know that it’s going to get views and clicks if they make it sound as dire as possible.
Whether it’s a war brewing in a far off nation or a political climate that’s teetering on the brink of instability, you don’t need to be tuned in to this day in, day out. Unless you are in immediate danger, it isn’t necessary to sabotage your mental health like this.
Drought, political decisions, plants that are shut down – ask yourself if it’s affecting you right now, or if it will be something sabotaging your daily life in the near future. If not, shelve your worry until a later date and see if it gets worked out.
There’s a reason why stress levels tend to decrease as we age. While Gen Z is highly stressed right now, older Americans are less so. Experience tells us that things we used to panic about eventually have a way of working themselves out – and it is of no use to fret about things that likely won’t materialize or can’t be controlled.
Managing the Many Personal Stress Issues in Your Life
Part of your stress might be more personal and less global or newsworthy. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life. You will – at some point – have to weather the storm or become a victim to it.
There may have been relationship woes in your life recently – a breakup with your significant other who you hoped to spend an eternity with. Recently, the pandemic affected these unions in a horrible way – maybe because people were locked down together, experiencing their own stress over money and health, and took it out on each other.
You might want to work on the relationship to see if it can be salvaged now that things are going back to normal. If things can be repaired, it is normally better for everybody involved.
If your relationship ends, give yourself permission to grieve, but let go of the hatred and stress it brings thinking about what went wrong. You don’t want to keep one foot in the past as you try to move forward and find your own happiness.
Sometimes, you might be dealing with the stress of parenting. Parenting stress never ends. As a new parent, you stress about not knowing what you’re doing. When they’re toddlers, your stress is about everything they get into when you’re not looking for a moment.
Later on you’ll have to deal with stress about schoolwork, chores, protecting your child from bullies and heartache – their health and more. Even once they leave the nest, your stress will be about their happiness and if they’re sad, you’ll be sad.
Being a parent is stressful, but in order to give your child the best life possible, you have to teach them how to be resilient in spite of what’s happening around them. The best way to do this is to lead by example.
Another stress you might be experiencing is your job. Maybe you don’t have one and are having trouble finding one. You might have to take the stress away by increasing your skills or taking something temporarily to take the financial pressure off until you find the perfect position.
Or maybe you’re employed, but unhappy at your job. If this is the case, don’t sit around stewing about your situation – make a plan to take action! You might be able to level up within the company to a better position, or find a different company or even career to pursue that will make you happier.
There are times when our personal stress is more heartbreaking. A death in the family can cause grief that’s overwhelming. Only time can ease the pain, but you can choose to focus on appreciation for having had that person in your life.
If you’re a caregiver of a disabled or special needs child or adult, it can put a physical and mental strain on you. Make sure that, in order to stress less, you give yourself some time away from your duties to relax and recharge.
There are home health aids who can step in and provide relief for you so that you can go to the spa or visit the beach and soak up the sun. Don’t feel guilty about this – because what you’re doing will allow you to be your best self for the one you’re taking care of.
Don’t Self-Soothe with Dangerous Vices
When you’re looking for stress relief, you might inadvertently turn to things that can ultimately do more harm than good. Initially, they may take the edge off and make you feel better – but over time, they can have very damaging effects.
For example, regardless of what is at the root of your stress, you might find yourself drinking a little more alcohol than you used to. It might start with one drink after a rare hard day at work, only to evolve into three or more drink on a regular basis.
Some people abuse their prescription pills, too. A doctor may have prescribed muscle relaxants or sleeping pills and now the person gets hooked on them just to avoid having to think about all of the stress swirling around in their head.
Non legal drugs might also become an issue. From marijuana to heroin and everything in between, there are some people who get drawn to this lifestyle as a way to escape the pain and stress they are plagued by.
Smoking (or vaping) might be something you start doing on breaks at work or at other times to relax your mind. Then one day you find that nicotine is in control and you no longer have a choice about using it.
Or you might be someone who turns to food to suppress your anxiety. Emotional eating is a big problem for both men and women, and it can turn into something that damages your health over time.
People reported gaining a lot of weight during the lockdown of the pandemic. It was stressful, and instead of going out, they would order food and grocery deliveries and binge eat since they were no longer working or socializing on the go.
Even sitting and binging on videos and shows can harm you if that’s what you choose to use to veg out and forget about your worries. Many people are now suffering from sitting disease, which is a term that describes how many health issues stem from the habit of not moving very much and sitting excessively.
And of course, your vice may not be a habit like food, alcohol or drugs, either. You might get in the habit of taking your pain out on others. You may not mean to at first, but snapping at loved ones or strangers can help you let off steam for a second, but do more harm than good.
There are even people who trauma dump on others – unloading all of their stress on their spouse, friends, family, and even people they don’t know online. Make sure you’re working with a therapist or even using self-taught methods to alleviate your stress without adopting any of these vices that can ruin your reputation and relationships and cause you more mental or physical harm.
Trade in Your Social Media Addiction for Calming Activities
If you poll younger generations, they’ll tell you that they belong to a number of different social networking sites and apps. They’ll also tell you that social media is one of the main sources of their stress.
You might have formed this addiction yourself. It’s tempting to avoid work or other demands to scroll on Facebook or TikTok for a few minutes. But these minutes end up turning into hours each week.
This can be very damaging to your psyche. Now some people will say that there is a lot of positive out social media. This is true. Social media can provide a way for people to socialize without having to get out of the house and there is a lot of positive content to be found on social media.
However, while you are trying to find the nuggets of positivity, you will inevitably encounter negative and harmful content that you are actively exposing yourself to on a daily basis.
Social media can be used to learn new things – like how to cook a certain meal or how to start a garden. But if you just let anything and everything into your feed, you will see all kinds of harmful influences.
You have to make sure you’re weeding out accounts that bring stress into your life. If you train the algorithm of the platforms you are using by engaging in content that lifts you up and hiding the content (or blocking the accounts) that cause you stress, they will provide more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
There are a lot of people trauma dumping on social media, too. And now it’s not just them telling their stories. You might be scrolling on TikTok and see an entire series posted of a woman who secretly recorded her husband being extremely abusive to her.
This is traumatic to witness and can cause your Cortisol to spiral out of control. Instead of gawking at the videos and immersing yourself in other peoples’ problems, take back control and shut that kind of content out so that you’re being lifted up when you use these tools.
You may also want to put some parameters about how often you are using social media. Sometimes, people can get hooked on these sites and platforms and spend hours each day on them.
You want to be living life in the real world, and if it takes a digital detox to help you wean off of these sites and apps, you might want to take that approach so that you are able to find joy with those around you and in your home and work life.
Build a Stress-Relieving Routine You Can Rely On
One thing you can do to reclaim your life from stress is develop a routine that ensures you are getting stress relieving properties every single day. From the time you wake up until the time your head hits the pillow each night, you want to be engaging in self-care.
If you are the kind of person who spends all morning rushing around in a panic to get out the door, get yourself on a better sleep schedule so that you have plenty of time to wake up relaxed, eat a nutritious breakfast, and start your day off on a positive note.
There are physical things that you can do to alleviate stress. For example, you can engage in deep breathing techniques anywhere at any time to instantly calm your nerves.
In the evening after work, you may want to put on a soothing face mask and take a nice warm bath with some Epsom salts and a candle lit nearby with your favorite scent emanating from it.
A routine that includes exercise is always beneficial in helping alleviate stress and empowering you throughout your day. Not only does this contribute to your physical health, but it also gives you a boost of endorphins that can benefit you emotionally, too.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, make sure you are setting yourself up on a proper sleep hygiene routine. This can include dimming the lights a bit and reading before bed rather than being on your phone or iPad.
If you have the opportunity, timewise, you may want to also integrate some of your favorite activities into your routine. These may not be daily, but you may be able to do things like volunteer with animals, play golf or go to the spa once or twice per month.
Another part of your stress relieving routine will be to make sure you are spending time with people who bring joy to your life. That may simply be your spouse and children or it may extend beyond that and include friends and additional family members.
Prevent Future Stress by Preparing Early and Being Aware
Sometimes, there are situations where the stress is unavoidable. You know it’s bound to happen, and instead of preparing for it, you simply brace yourself for the unknown. Instead of walking on eggshells or living your life in a heightened state of anxiety, you can alleviate a lot of that stress simply by being prepared and staying aware.
For example, if the news is something that frequently causes you concern because you are watching stories about a broken supply chain or threats of war being waged against your country, you can begin a sensible survival prepping plan that gives you peace of mind that you will be okay in a worst case scenario.
You can do this with anything that brings you stress. For example, if you know you will be stressed out at the beginning of school trying to get your kids back in a routine, start a couple of weeks early and have everything planned so that they can assist you with making their lunches and choosing their clothes the night before.
You have to walk a fine line between staying informed and becoming obsessed. It’s never a good idea to stick your head in the sand and ignore everything that’s going on in the world.
However, it’s also not smart to take the opposite approach and stay glued to mainstream media 24/7 so that they can feed you a diet of fear and anxiety. You are in control of what you allow yourself to be exposed to and how you react to it.
The key is to sit with yourself each night or at least once a week and ask yourself what it is that is causing you stress and see if it can be mitigated so that it doesn’t have power over you from that point on.
Stress has become a pandemic of its own in this world. Many people will succumb to it and live a life of depression and anxiety. You don’t have to be chained to an overload of stress if you’re willing to take steps to prevent and manage it in your life.
Martin Neumann was trained for Lifestyle Interventions in 1998 at Wildwood Lifestyle Center & Hospital. Since then he has lectured in different parts of the world about a healthy lifestyle and natural remedies. He is the founder of the Abundant Health website.