… AND HOW TO FIND A HEALTHY BALANCE
Stress can be a normal part of life, but only to a certain extent. While occasional bouts of acute stress before an important event or during a major change in your life are bound to happen, chronic stress that rarely goes away can wreak havoc on nearly all aspects of your health, including your skin. According to a national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, millennials are feeling the effects of chronic stress more than any other generation, and this can lead to all sorts of health concerns, including high blood pressure, an increased risk for heart disease, and depression.
The good news, however, is that recognizing signs of chronic stress and anxiety and taking steps to better manage stress and rebalance your life can have a huge impact on your health, wellness, and overall happiness. Here’s what you need to know.
The Effects of Stress on Millennials
Largely due to sky-high student debt, financial worries are the leading cause of stress for millennials, with work-related stress coming in at a close second. Other common contributors to stress for this age-group, which ranges from about 18 to 35, include poor sleep and eating habits, alcohol use, spending too much time on cell phones, and not getting enough exercise (Forbes Magazine).
High-stress levels, which often lead to poor lifestyle habits, can quickly add up and cause mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal, as well as physical health problems such as high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, and chronic headaches.
As stress mounts, millennials often turn to ineffective and even unhealthy coping mechanisms, which can begin a never-ending cycle. The American Psychological Association reports that a whopping 67 percent of millennials regularly surf the internet in an attempt to de-stress, while another 58 percent uses TV and movies. The problem with these types of coping techniques is that they tend to lead to inactivity and social isolation, which can make symptoms of chronic stress even worse.
Signs of Chronic Stress
If you think stress could be to blame for any number of physical or psychological symptoms you’re experiencing, look for these common signs of chronic stress to help you get to the root of the problem:
- Acne breakouts and dull, flaky skin
- Disinterest in hobbies or other activities
- Upset stomach
- Unexplainable aches and pains
- Chest pain
How to Better Manage Stress
Although it might be tempting to use alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, and surfing the internet as ways to help manage your stress, the reality is that these habits can make matters worse. Instead, try these healthier, more productive ways to manage your stress and lead a happier and more fulfilling life:
- Spend time in nature. Research has shown that taking a walk through the woods can have a lasting positive impact on your mental health and help to reduce negative thoughts and feelings (PNAS).
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit your intake of “junk” foods that are high in refined sugar and trans fats.
- Update your skincare products. Stress, combined with poor eating and exercise habits, can wreak havoc on your skin. If you’re having a hard time getting rid of breakouts or other unwanted skin conditions, try upgrading your skincare products to those that contain gentle, yet effective ingredients that won’t irritate your skin. Products like Pure Cloud Cream, for example, contain skin-nourishing ingredients that help to replenish stressed, dehydrated skin.
- Establish a regular exercise routine, even if for only 20 minutes a day. Getting up and moving is not only a great way to reduce stress, but it’s also excellent for your overall health and wellness.
- Unplug. Mindlessly scrolling through social media outlets is okay once in a while, but if you find yourself glued to your phone, or you can’t seem to stop answering emails when you should be relaxing, disconnect yourself from technology for the evening and do something that you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Even if you feel drained, isolating yourself from others can heighten stress and anxiety. Instead, reach out to a close friend, partner, or family member if you’re struggling to deal with a stressful situation.
The Bottom Line
With our busy, hectic lives, it can be all too easy to fall into the vicious cycle of becoming stressed, then developing bad habits that can lead to even more stress. As soon as you recognize that your mental or physical health may be suffering from chronic stress, take action by making a few simple, yet impactful changes to help you cope with stress more productively.