Community Health & Wellness

Wellness Wednesday | How to manage stress in a healthy way

Posted on April 10th, 2024 By: Scot Fleshman

Not many things in life can be guaranteed. Except for death, taxes, and stress! While each person may experience stress differently, it’s usually defined as a feeling of “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” There is no limit to how frequently stress may occur, and for some, even a brief stressful encounter can have a long-lasting impact.

Exactly how common is stress in the life of the average American?

Stress statistics paint a dim picture

Check out these statistics sourced from an article from the American Institute of Stress:

  • “63% of U.S. workers are ready to quit their jobs to avoid work-related stress”
  • “87% of Americans are feeling stress due to the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (e.g., gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, etc.)”
  • “58% of U.S. adults reported experiencing a relationship strain or end as a result of conflicts related to the COVID-19 pandemic”
  • “54% of Americans want to stay informed about the news, but following the news causes them stress”
  • “76% of U.S. workers say their workplace stress has had a negative impact on their personal relationships”
  • “36% of adults reported experiencing stress caused by a friend or loved one’s long-term health condition”

What do all of those statistics have in common?

Besides the fact that more than half of the country feels significant amounts of stress on any given day, stress has infiltrated every aspect of people’s lives. It’s prevalent in everything from work to healthcare, relationships to making a living, and even staying up to date with current events. In each of those situations, your body can have an anxious response, and that feeling is stress.

Common signs of stress to watch for

What are common signs of stress you can be aware of?

  • Brain fog or trouble focusing
  • Difficulty making decisions or forgetfulness
  • Physiological symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and back pain
  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, or helplessness
  • Shock, emotional numbness, or disbelief

Prolonged and unmanaged stress can cause your body to have more adverse responses, like stroke or heart disease. It’s also possible to experience depression as a result of highly stressful situations or events.

So what can you do when you’re facing excessive or prolonged stressors in your life?

Handling stress the healthy way

Develop healthy coping strategies when you notice stress creeping into your life. These can look like:

  • Learning to let go of what you cannot control
  • Learning breathing and mindful meditation techniques to maintain calm in your body and mind
  • Focus on what is within your power and take action
  • Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional to manage unhelpful, anxious thoughts
  • Moving your body in a way that brings you joy
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and sleep routine
  • Not leaning on substances like drugs or alcohol to cope

You are capable of managing your stress in a healthy way with the right support system.

Remember, the team at Gig Harbor Primary Care is here to be a part of your stress management network. Please contact us at 253-432-4437 to book a wellness check and develop a healthy stress management strategy.

Scot Fleshman

The Wellness Wednesday column is written by Scot Fleshman, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and board-certified family nurse practitioner. Fleshman and his wife, Jessica Hopkins, own Gig Harbor Primary Care.