It’s a fact – Americans are stressed. According to a recent report issued by the American Psychiatric Association, only a little more than half of American adults claim to have excellent or very good mental health. Topping the stressors in our lives are work, money, health-related concerns, and the national news.
Stress is a serious problem as it takes a toll on not just mental health, but physical healthy as well. Excessive feelings of stress can cause muscle tension and back pain, upset stomach, respiratory issues, fatigue, and depression. Stress wreaks havoc on the reproductive system and can even lead to hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
Sadly, our Gen Z children report experiencing significantly higher levels of stress than any other age group surveyed. However, they are also the most likely to seek support to manage their stress.
How can we help our kids – and ourselves – decompress and relax? Experts recommend three key contributors to staying happy and healthy:
Cultivating a reliable group of good friends is critical to maintaining good mental health. Friends are there to talk through problems, offer support, and help us make better choices. A solid friend group provides a safe place to be ourselves and provides companionship when we feel alone. Reaching out to friends in times of stress or worry is a good way to maintain good mental health.
In addition to keeping your body fit and healthy, physical activity is also shown to reduce stress. A good sweat can also boost self-esteem and confidence. Since a consistent exercise routine plays such an important role in good mental health, why not make a commitment to family fitness? Take a walk, hike, jog, or scooter ride together and watch that stress just slip away.
Sleep is your mind’s rest time – a time to process and sort through everything you’re taking in each day. Poor sleep can result in negativity, depression, and anxiety, but a good night of sleep improves concentration and creativity and provides the clarity that enables us to deal with the everyday challenges and stressors. Experts recommend setting consistent sleep and wake times, exercising during the day, and removing all electronics from the bedroom.
Although stress seems to be on the rise, there is good news. The APA survey reported a full 75% of respondents feeling hopeful about their futures. With an intentional focus on mental health, plenty of friends, exercise, and sleep, things will get better!