Stress affects everyone. In the U.S., Kentucky is the fourth most-stressed state. It ranks in the top 10 in family, money and health-related stress issues and is 23rd in work-related stress.
These types of factors are categorized as chronic stress. The American Institute of Stress says people have very different ideas with respect to their definition of stress.
The most common is, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” Another popular definition of stress is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
American stress levels have been rising across the board for all demographics for years. Common stressors include the future of America and money, along with health insurance costs. But not all demographics are affected in the same way. For example, millennials have the highest average stress levels.
WalletHub compared all 50 states across 40 key indicators of stress to determine the places to avoid and achieve a more relaxing life. Their data set ranges from average hours worked per week to personal bankruptcy rate to share of adults getting adequate sleep.
Lionel Phelps, vice president of continuous quality improvement at RiverValley Consulting Services, said prevention is key when it comes to stress.
“Many find that having a positive outlook prevents stress taking a hold,” he said. “Accept the events beyond our control and instead work on managing our emotional reactions to difficult or challenging situations.”
There is a lot of research about the importance of daily exercise and eating healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise also lowers stress hormones, releases endorphins and improves mood.
Phelps suggested taking a short, brisk walk every day and to get plenty of fresh air.
“Seek out social support and spend time with family and friends on a regular basis,” he said. “Don’t depend on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to relieve stress. Instead, practice being mindful of your breathing, diverting negative thoughts, and recognize when more help is needed.”
General stress management includes financial stress.
“Financial stress is a huge problem for many Americans,” he said. “Higher financial stress levels have worrisome health implications. It may also be helpful to examine how you deal with stress related to money.”
Identifying financial stressors and making a plan can help lower stress levels concerning money.
“Committing to a financial plan, whether it’s a budget or other money management plan, will help you feel more empowered in control of your situation,” Phelps said. “Use challenging financial times into opportunities for growth and change. For example, having dinner at home with family may not only save money, but also provides social support and connectedness that reduces stress.”
For those needing help managing their stress, contact RiverValley Behavioral Health at 270-689-6500.