Modern life is busy, and there’s always so much to deal with on the daily that it’s easy to assume that being stressed out is normal. This causes individuals to become used to feeling hurried, tense, distracted, and irritable. In the midst of all of these stressors, sleepless nights can become so familiar that not getting eight hours of sleep a night becomes almost a social norm.
But life doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, chronic stress can result in anxiety and a range of other health consequences. Learning to manage these stressors through some small lifestyle changes can help you feel better, think more clearly, and be able to actually relax and enjoy your free time.
Stress in Adults
The first step towards managing stress levels in your life is identifying different symptoms of stress, both physical and emotional.1 Though not everyone experiences the same symptoms, if you are stressed, you may experience one of the following:
- Overwhelmed, anxious, or fearful feelings
- Lack of confidence
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
Stress in the Workplace
More often than not, many stressors are found in the workplace. Because of this, it’s a good idea for managers and team leaders to keep a watchful eye on the individual they supervise because stress in teams can spread.2
Signs of stress in the workplace include:
- Arguments between team members
- Increased absenteeism
- Poorer performance
- Increased complaints to HR
- Increased staff turnover
If you notice this happening with one or more employees on your team, then it is well worth talking to them and looking for ways to support them with their efforts at work. That could mean hiring more staff to share the load, offering more flexible working hours or the opportunity to work from home, or providing training or tools.
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Stress in Children
There is a common misconception that it is only adults who get stressed. What people forget is that children do not have a frame of references for the experiences they are having. Because of this, a child may feel stressed in an unfamiliar situation because they don’t know whether the situation is safe.
Additionally, children lack the knowledge and vocabulary to explain how they feel, so the way that they show they are stressed is different from adults.
Furthermore, a child may not realize they are stressed. They may simply describe feeling “unwell,” and as such, their symptoms may go unrecognized. Because of these factors, identifying signs of stress in children is particularly important.3
Signs of stress in children include:
- Reduced appetite or becoming a more picky eater
- Return to bedwetting after being potty trained
- Difficulty sleeping or night terrors
- Reports of stomach pain or nausea
- Reports of other ailments but no clear physical illness
A child who is stressed may show a number of other behaviors, including:
- Inability to relax
- Suddenly fearfulness about things that didn’t bother them before
- Increased clinginess
- Anger, anxiety, or worry
- Inability to control emotions
- Disconnect from group activities
Stress on Sports Teams
Many individuals take up sports as a hobby, but when they start taking their hobby too seriously, they put themselves at risk for stress. Though some athletic pressure can be beneficial, constantly being under pressure to perform can lead to burnout and decreased performance.
In fact, there have been several studies about how stress affects athletes, including not just exposure to actual stressors but how perceived life stress can impact performance.4
Coaches, much like team leaders, need to be able to identify signs of stress in their athletes and encourage proper behaviors and coping mechanisms. If an athlete starts missing practice or showing excessive emotion in practice, this should be identified and addressed.
Additionally, if an athlete’s performance decreases, and it appears that they may be living an unhealthy lifestyle, this should also be addressed.
Someone who coaches adults may see themselves as more of a trainer that provides advice about a specific thing. On the other hand, an individual who coaches younger people may be a mentor and is therefore in a position to promote good stress management techniques that could improve a physical and mental well-being.5
Stress and Social Media
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that social media can be a source of anxiety for some individuals.6
Signs of this include:
- Compulsive checking of social media (during face to face conversations, for example)
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
- Loss of interest in other hobbies or activities
- Spending several hours per day on social media sites
- Neglecting work or school to use social media
- Unsuccessfully attempting to cut down on social media use
Around one-third of individuals who use social media spend more than 15 hours a week interacting with their chosen platforms. That is time that could be spent on face-to-face interactions, skill development, or hobbies. People who spend so much time online are missing out on the chance to enjoy more meaningful and positive activities.
This is particularly true for younger users who may be victims of cyberbullying, or who may be addicted to the platform they are using. Excessive social media use has been found to contribute to depression, paranoia, attention difficulties, and loneliness.
Confidence Beats Stress
As mentioned earlier, some stress is perfectly normal. The way individuals lead lifestyles today, however, is not conducive to being able to switch off mentally and alleviate stress.
Overall, however, confidence can beat stress. Everyone—adult or child, athlete or office worker—needs to feel supported and believe that they have the physical and mental tools they require to get the job done. When you know that you can solve the problems you are facing, it becomes easier to face your stressors and focus on getting through the challenging situation.