Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do you have the energy to manage your stress?

I usually gripe about not having the wherewithal to exercise, to sleep, to make time for myself. Turns out I'm not alone. The same survey by the American Psychological Association that took a look at teen stress levels shows that 75 percent of adults reported experiencing "moderate to high levels of stress" in the past month, and 42 percent said that their stress levels have increased in the past year. And more and more people don't feel like they have the energy to deal with it.

According to the study:

47 percent of respondents report that they have lain awake at night
45 percent report irritability or anger
43 percent report fatigue
40 percent report lack of interest, motivation or energy

Nearly a third of respondents report headaches, feelings of depression, and sadness; 27 percent blame stress for their upset stomachs and indisgtestion.

Though more of us are experiencing stress, fewer of us are willing to do much about it, the survey found. Some -- as many as 44 percent -- reported exercising or walking to relieve stress, but more people listen to music, read, watch TV or movies, or play video games to relax.

At The Wall Street Journal's The Juggle, Helen L. Coons, a clinical psychologist and a fellow of the APA, suggests that one reason people don't tackle the long-term job of managing their stress is that they feel they don't have enough time to do so. "We need to “reframe ‘self care’ as something that is not selfish,” she said.

When you were a kid did you ever over-wind your watch or your wind-up toy, to the point where you jammed the gears and the darn thing didn't work anymore? (I'm totally going to assume here that you are about my age, and your first watch was not digital.) Well, that's what we're doing to ourselves now: We're so used to running full-tilt into walls, working and living and trying to juggle our careers and our families, that the idea of taking time to take care of ourselves seems selfish or unimportant.

It's more than just "me" time. It's "me" management.

I'd ask you if you're stressed, but that just seems silly -- of course you are, some days more so than others. Instead, I want to know how you manage your stress. Do you do something active, like exercise? Do you do something passive, like eat? How do you unwind after a long and stressful day?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I walk. I write. I lock the laundry room door and sit on top of the washer during the "spin" cycle sometimes. It's like a massage, only you don't have to leave the house or have human contact. I LOVE to take my lunch to the park and walk the trails there on a stressful day at work. I guess different people have different outlets, but watching television wouldn't do it for me. Nor would computer time, since that is work, in my mind.