“Stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century”
—World Health Organisation
The average person experiences dozens of stress reactions a day. Did you know that it sparks 1,400 biochemical events in your body each time? In the right doses, stress works in our favour, helping us survive and perform better, for instance. But it’s bad when prolonged or handled poorly. In the long term, stress can cause a range of mental and physical health problems; headaches, sleep problems, higher risk for obesity and illness, and more.
Here are eight good-to-knows that could help you get a leg up on stress:
1. Boredom is stressful
Having too little to do can stress you out. James Danckert defines boredom as ‘the result of a failed effort to engage with one’s surroundings’. This irritates you and brings anxiety. Disengaged employees are more likely to miss work, be unproductive, or cause mischief. If this is you, you’re not just hurting your workplace – you’re hurting your own well-being.
2. You might be stressed even when you think you’re not
Through repeated experiences, your brain gets so used to feeling stressed that it adapts; eventually, this feels like your normal state. That’s how stress builds up without you noticing. You lose mental and emotional clarity. It’s one of the reasons why smart people make bad decisions, why we overreact, or fall sick unexpectedly.
3. It’s best handled ASAP
Many of us are guilty of the ‘binge-and-purge approach’. We stress out all week at work, then try to find relief over the weekend with a yoga class, an afternoon at the beach, etc. The thing is, these activities are restoring, but short-lived and possibly too late. Your health has already taken a hit. Every time you delay keeping your inner balance, your body activates the stress response.
4. …and at the root
Most stress results from your perception of happenings in your life. You might feel better if you address it directly, rather than finding a temporary distraction. When you recognise the recurring emotional patterns that give you stress, you’ll be in a better position to transform them.
5. Feeling bad is good for you sometimes
It’s a common mindset that negative emotions aren’t good. We bury bad feelings with alcohol or shopping sprees, instead of letting them run their course. It’s easy to get used to this sort of emotional avoidance, running away from situations we know will make us feel bad or using poor coping strategies. But sometimes, struggling to control these feelings only makes us feel worse.
It’s perfectly normal to feel bad. Accept your situation, process the emotions that result, and you’ll emerge the better for it.
“Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being.”
—Jonathan M. Adler
6. Your office could be using innovative ways to deal with stress
Some offices are introducing in-house art programmes, pets, and more to help employees feel better at work. In windowless spaces, some are even experimenting with large screens that depict nature, such as oceans and forests.
7. Only one out of ten people in Singapore claim to be stress-free
For every stress-free person, there are 2.5 stressed-out beings and 6.5 with manageable stress levels and work-life balance.
8. Every two seconds, someone tweets about stress
That’s almost fifty thousand a day.
Now close those twenty tabs in your browser, and get some downtime.