Stress can affect people of any age. While small amounts of stress may stimulate adrenaline responses and help people power through difficult projects or solve problems, chronic stress can impact the mind and body in harmful ways. WebMD defines stress as any change in the environment that requires the body to react and adjust in response. The body may react to stress physically, emotionally and/or mentally. Positive stress, called eustress, can take the form of getting a new job with greater responsibilities. However, it's the bad stress – distress – that can cause tension and other negative consequences. Money, health and relationships are some of the common contributors to stress in the United States. Seventy-seven percent of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, and 73 percent experience psychological symptoms from stress. Statistics Canada indicated that, in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 23 percent of Canadians age 15 and older (6.7 million people) reported that most days were 'quite a bit' or 'extremely' stressful. Stress can have many implications. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up and chronic stress can cause the muscles in the body to stay taut and tense for long periods of time, says the American Psychological Association. This may lead to tension headaches and musculoskeletal disorders. The Mayo Clinic advises that stress can cause fatigue, changes in sex drive, stomach upset and difficulty sleeping. Stress also affects mood, potentially resulting in lack of motivation or focus, anxiety, sadness, and/or angry outbursts. Healthline links chronic stress to behaviors such as overeating, not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal. Reducing stress is a priority for many people. Although it is not an easy undertaking, slowly removing stressors from one's life and taking steps toward changing one's responses to stressful situations can help. There are many stress-management strategies, and not every one is right for all individuals. However, the following techniques may be helpful.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress.
- Meditation: Mindful meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are ways to focus the brain away from stressful situations.
- Socialization: Talking and spending time with friends or family can relieve stress.
- Hobbies: Crafts, hobbies and other engaging activities can direct attention away from stress.
- Talk therapy: Seeing a therapist may help some people work through stress and discover additional techniques to change how they respond to stress.
- Situation changes: Changing a job, residence or a condition that removes a source of stress may be handy.
Many people suffer from stress, which can be very harmful if not dealt with healthily and readily.