Tuning into the news may be highly stressful or upsetting for many Americans. If you’ve been experiencing stress or anxiety due to current events, you are not alone. Stress is part of everyday life, but it can be particularly heightened due to the news, current events or unfortunate incidents that could directly or indirectly impact your well-being. Do you need tips on managing stress and anxiety?
This article outlines symptoms of stress and anxiety and offers ways to cope with your feelings during troubling times.
What is Stress?
Stress is any demand placed on your brain or physical body. Stress is typically caused by an external trigger. Any event or scenario that makes you feel frustrated or nervous can trigger it.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), people under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles and difficulty sleeping.
What Is Anxiety?
On the other hand, anxiety is defined by the APA as persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor. It also leads to the same symptoms as stress.
Most people experience some feelings of stress or anxiety at some point. While stress and anxiety are different feelings, they’re closely connected. After all, they can sometimes be helpful motivators to accomplish tasks or do things you’d rather not, but should or need to. While experiencing stress and anxiety are normal during tough times, you can put yourself at risk for long-term mental and physical health effects if you don’t take steps to cope with these feelings.
Since stress and anxiety are emotional responses, they respond well to similar coping mechanisms. Try the following general tips to improve managing stress and anxiety:
- Avoid doomscrolling. Doomscrolling is a relatively new unique behavior. It’s the concept of binging on negative news. You may want to follow news coverage about current events to stay in the loop of what’s happening, but spending too much time doing this can negatively impact your mental health. The same danger goes for excessive scrolling on social media. To combat this unhealthy habit, try to spend less time on social media and focus on facts rather than speculation.
- Be physically active. Try to give your mind a rest, shifting the focus to your body instead. Physical activity creates mood-boosting chemicalchanges in the brain. Engage in activities such as swimming, cycling, walking and running.
- Be mindful. When thoughts feel spiraling, mindfulness activities may stop your mind from racing. Yoga, meditation and other mindful practices can help you feel present in the moment.
- Try breathing exercises. Breathing is closely linked to the nervous system. Deep, controlled breathing with extended exhalation can cause a fall in heart rate and blood pressure. When deep breathing exercises are practiced regularly, you may also experience calm and relaxing feelings.
- Take time to unwind. It’s essential to still engage in activities you enjoy. Creative outlets, such as hobbies, crafts, writing or home improvement, can be good distractions.
- Maintain sleep habits. Although it may be hard to sleep when anxious, try to maintain your usual sleeping pattern. Being well-rested is vital for emotional balance.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals. Healthy eating is important for your overall physical and mental health, improving your ability to navigate stress during troubling times. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Eating well also means limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
- Connect with others. Good relationships foster a sense of belonging and provide an outlet to share experiences. Sharing worries with others can improve your situation and feelings. Connect with friends and family to bolster your mental well-being. Make social plans, such as a family meal or lunch with a close friend or colleague.
- Be transparent. If your stress or anxiety stems from work-related situations, reach out to your manager or supervisor. There may be ways that your manager can help to lessen the burden.
Many Americans experience stress or anxiety. If left unchecked, though, these feelings can negatively affect your mental well-being. Take steps today for managing stress and anxiety and to keep it under control.
When anxious and helpless feelings occur, it’s hard to know what to do, but it’s essential to focus on what you can control. You are in control of your thoughts and can take steps to protect your mental and physical health.
It’s natural to feel anxious or stressed, but don’t suffer alone. Your employer may offer mental health or wellness resources.
Additionally, if you’re concerned about your mental health, talk to your doctor, a licensed mental health professional or contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).