Written by Dr. Mauro Zappaterra, MD, PhD
About the Author: Mauro Zappaterra completed his MD/PhD at Harvard Medical School, specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a focus on optimizing human performance through regenerative medicine, nutrition, mind-body exercises and biofield therapies. Both a published researcher and an award-winning doctor, Dr. Zappaterra focuses on working holistically with individuals to optimize their potential and improve their quality of life
Stress is a common problem affecting people today, and it can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health. The World Health Organization has classified stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century. The American Psychological Association's 2022 Stress in America Survey polled over 3000 people and found that 87% were stressed.
Stress can affect us in many ways including:
Physical health: Stress can lead to a variety of physical health problems, including headaches, stomach problems, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Mental health: Stress is a leading cause of anxiety and depression. It can also contribute to other mental health issues such as mood disorders, substance abuse, and sleep disorders.
Work-related: Work-related stress is a common issue that can lead to burnout, reduced productivity, and decreased job satisfaction.
Relationship: Stress can put a strain on relationships, leading to conflicts and difficulties communicating with loved ones.
Financial: Financial stress is a major concern for many people, and it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Overall, stress can have a significant impact on individuals and society as a whole. Stress can bring us out of our comfort zone and out of our window of tolerance for our nervous system to be able to maintain a sense of balance. We must find ways to reduce our stress now, in order to maintain good health and well-being.
There are many ways to decrease stress, and the most effective approach will vary depending on the individual and the source of your stress. However, here are some strategies that can be helpful for many people:
Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. Exercise can also help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. This can help reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and improving the ability to cope with stressors.
Relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Social support: Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress and improve mood by providing a sense of connection and support.
Time management: Effective time management can help reduce stress by allowing you to prioritize tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for managing stress. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce stress by providing the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
It's important to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you in managing your stress levels. A combination of strategies may be most effective.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/19-mh-8109-5-things-stress_155209.pdf
American Psychological Association. (2021). Stress in America™ 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/report-october
World Health Organization. (2021). Mental health: strengthening our response. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Stress and Coping. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
American Heart Association. (2021). Stress and Heart Health. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health