Did you know that money, work and the economy are the most commonly reported sources of stress? Did you also know that less than 4 in 10 adults are doing a good job at managing stress? And did you know that despite reporting stress symptoms, 39% of adults indicated that stress had slight or no impact on their physical health, and 43% of them said the same about their mental health? However, is this really the case?
Understanding the benefits of having a good workout and good quality of sleep is simple; most people get that. But why would you then want to know how stressed out you are? Research has then shown that stress affects the number of workouts and sleep quantity and quality in many ways, apart from impairing your ability to think critically, make decisions and perform basic tasks. It is thus important to find the balance between your mood, sleep and activity, to lead happier and more relaxed lives.
A study conducted by the American Psychological Association that was released in 2014, surveyed 1,950 American adults to see how stress affected sleep, exercise and eating patterns. It revealed that stress often deterred people from exercising on a regular basis and tended to lead to a reduction in sleep quantity and quality.
The Stress-Exercise Problem
It seems that when people are more stressed, they tend to exercise less, and when they exercise less, their stress levels are not reduced. 35% of the adults surveyed said exercising put them in a good mood, and 30% said they felt less stressed after exercising, yet only 17% of adults reported they were exercising daily. While physical activity is able to help people stress less, stress was the problem that inhibited them from exercising. This downward spiral of increased stress and lack of exercise is exacerbated over time. The study also revealed that adults with high stress appeared to be more aware of the effect exercise had on their stress levels, as 33% of high-stress adults indicated they felt less stressed after exercising, compared to 18% of low-stress adults. Understanding your stress patterns is thus the first step in recognising the problem and to overcome the reluctance of exercising, and be in better physical and mental health.
The Sleep-Stress Cycle
Moreover, when people lack sleep, it appears that they become more stressed, and stress can keep them from falling asleep at night. When adults do not get enough sleep, 21% of them felt more stressed. For those who experienced higher stress levels, 43% of them felt even more stressed if they did not get enough sleep. This sleep-stress cycle is worsened when the bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. It was reported that 43% of them indicated that stress caused them to lie awake at night. Recognising and acknowledging stress patterns is thus important in measuring the effectiveness of steps, such as meditation, taken to prevent the downward spiral of lack of sleep and increased stress levels.
To enjoy more activities and have better sleep quantity and quality, it is important to have less stress in your life. Finding the balance in life, between your mood, sleep and activity, is hence important in leading a happier and healthier life.
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