October 27, 2016

10 Must Know Facts About Stress + [Infographic]


In this ten must-know facts about stress post, find out things like; how laughter plays an important role towards your well-being, possible signs of baldness (men and women), a win for dark chocolate lovers, the relationship between stress and money, why stress might be affecting your sleep, the list of some of the most stressful jobs in the world—plus more!



"Stress less; don’t worry, be happy," Frankie says. "Relax, life’s too short to stress". We’ve all had people tell us that we shouldn’t stress; to "chill out," and "take it easy." But, let’s be honest, do such assurances, actually help? At some point or another, stress gets to all of us. It's a part of life we all have to deal with. Regardless of what might cause it, you might just find the facts about stress listed below interesting, intriguing, or simply downright absurd.

Stress, a physical response to the body thinking it’s under attack, is a normal part of life—and sometimes being told not to stress can make you even more stressed! So instead of someone telling you to "chill out" without telling you how, we’ve put together some of the most interesting things we could find about stress—including a few tips on how to reduce it! So, here they are.

10 Must Know Facts About Stress

1. Laughter is the Best Medicine

You’ve probably heard this one before, and that’s because it’s a tried and true stress alleviator. According to Dr. Lee Berk, laughing can lower levels of hormones which cause stress, while releasing dopamine to make you feel better1. In fact, even anticipating a laugh can help according to one study2. Have you ever been in a tense situation and just felt like laughing? While it’s not the most professional of ways to deal with a tense situation, it triggers a release of endorphins that can help with both physical and mental relaxation.

2. Thinning or Balding—Not Just Genetic

As you hit your mid-20s, you may start to notice that, among the men, they either start balding, receding, thinning, or graying. If they’re exceptionally lucky, however, they'll retain their full head of luscious hair. While much of this is assumed to be due to genetics, take note ladies and men, just look at your Dad’s hairline to see what could happen to you and your children. If you are under a lot of stress, hair loss can occur up to about ten times as normal (for both men and women)3. Yikes!

3. Dark Chocolate is Your Friend

For the dark chocolate lovers, brace yourself. Dark chocolate can help alleviate stress. Yes, you read right. So, when those chocolate cravings arise, you don't have to suppress them; embrace them! Just remember it’s only dark chocolate that’s great, and moderation is key. Research has found that consuming dark chocolate can lower your levels of stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine4. Not only that, but dark chocolate can be good for heart health too. So grab a piece while you’re studying—just try to avoid eating the whole block!

4. We Don’t Need Warriors

While women may be a bit more ‘flappy’ and visibly stressed, they aren’t the only ones who get stressed. According to a study done in 20105, men might be more likely to develop depression due to stress-related events. This may be due to a pre-conceived notion that depression is a weakness—which it most definitely is not. It may also be because men are less likely to talk about their emotions than women, meaning they will often ignore the symptoms of stress.

5. Money, Money, Money!

It can often seem like money makes the world spin. Which may be why recent surveys claim that money is the most common cause of stress in the world—or at least across 22 countries6. In some Western countries, half of Gen Y are living pay cheque to pay cheque, which is likely to increase as the cost of living in major cities continues to increase. However, there are tactics to manage this stress. Firstly, it’s no use stressing over things you cannot change. If you don’t like your situation, do something about it. Every cent counts, so if you can prioritize your spending and even save $10 a week, that’s $10 more for your future.

6. It’s All in Your Head … Or Not!

Often we feel like stress is just something that happens in our brains—but, despite common assumptions, stress is not always in your head. Chronic stress can cause physical pain or discomfort, including an upset stomach, difficulty swallowing, headaches or muscle tension. It’s worth listening to your body, especially if you start noticing that during important meetings, exams, or other stressful events in your life you are experiencing other side effects.

7. Counting Sheep and Still Not Falling Asleep?

When hard at work studying, preparing for a presentation, or training for an event, it’s fairly common to not be getting much sleep. Especially with all the parties, activities, late night studying, etc. But if you’re finding that when your head hits the pillow, you end up lying there counting sheep without falling asleep, then stress may be keeping you awake7. You may find that your brain can’t simply switch off and you just want to know the answer to your problem.

A lack of sleep can also enhance your stress. According to a survey from GfK, sleep deprivation is the third biggest cause of stress6. So if you’re finding your worries keeping you up, there are some ways to help manage this. One of those being to keep a notepad next to the bed to write down your thoughts and empty your mind.

8. Residual Christmas Bloating or Something More?

When Christmas and New Years have come and gone, so too does all that excess food and alcohol. It’s expected that you may put on a few pounds over this time, but if you are feeling stressed, this may also be contributing. Cortisol, the stress hormone, causes fat cells to accumulate and grow as it can increase appetite and those junk food cravings8.

9. Drumroll for … the Most Stressful Jobs in 2016!

If you’re prone to stress, it might be worth noting that, according to CareerCast’s surveys, the most stressful jobs in 2016 included9:
  • Enlisted Military Personnel: This often requires being away from home for long periods of time, quick decision making, potential hazards and risks to one’s own life.
  • Firefighters: They play a significant role in ensuring public safety and are often among the first respondents to emergency scenes.
  • Airline Pilots: This is a highly skilled job, where one wrong move could put a lot of people’s lives in danger.
  • Police Officers: Police officers have to maintain a high level of fitness due to the physical demands and situations that they have to deal with.
  • Event Coordinators: While they do not face the same physical demands and dangers that some of the other occupations do, they are often on very tight and challenging deadlines.

10. Put Your Feet Up

Relaxing can take some people a lot of time to master. It’s worth figuring out if you’re an active relaxer or a passive relaxer. If you’re an active relaxer, find something you enjoy doing where your mind can switch off for a bit; exercise, baking, putting on makeup. Find something you can focus your full attention on that won’t tax you physically or emotionally. If you are a passive relaxer, try things like meditation, deep breathing, or reading a book.

When it comes to stress, a whole lot of things could be contributing to your stress. While stress isn’t always a bad thing (it helps keep you alert to the potential danger, and it can drive activity), when it pops up in inappropriate situations it can keep you from living your life to its fullest potential. So try taking some of these tips to reduce the stress in your life. You might suddenly find it much easier to stress less!

Bonus: [Infographic] 6 Frightening Truths About Stress

6 Frightening Facts About Stress

References

  1. Heid, Markham. "You Asked: Does Laughing Have Real Health Benefits?" Time.
  2. Krupa, Donna. "New Study Finds Anticipating A Laugh Reduces Stress Hormones." American Physiological Society.
  3. Beck, Julie. "Why Stress Makes Your Hair Fall Out." The Atlantic.
  4. Bunch, T. Jared, MD. "Dark Chocolate: The Perfect Snack for Stress Relief and Heart Health." Everyday Health.
  5. Assari, Shervin. "Why Stress Is More Likely To Cause Depression In Men Than In Women." Medical Daily.
  6. AFP, and Relaxnews. "Money Is The Biggest Cause Of Stress In The World." The Huffington Post.
  7. Kavey, Neil B. "Stress, and Insomnia." Sleep Foundation.
  8. Chilnick, Lawrence. 2008. Heart Disease: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books Group. (found via Random History)
  9. Brooks, Chad. "The 10 Most (and Least) Stressful Jobs." Business News Daily.