April 15, 2021
/ by Erienne Muldoon
See the original post on Beyond Bylines.
Stress Awareness Month, held every April since 1992, brings healthcare professionals together to help educate people on the causes and effects of stress, and how to cope with these feelings in healthy ways.
Journalism is a notoriously stressful profession, and the demands of the job can make it that much more difficult to proactively manage stress levels.
Below are common sources of stress, signs that your body is overwhelmed, and healthy ways to address and diffuse stressful situations.
While money, work, and the political climate have consistently topped the list of stressors for Americans in recent years, the global COVID-19 pandemic profoundly compounded these factors and continues to affect our day-to-day lives.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), common sources of work stress include:
Sound familiar? Journalists are not strangers to pay cuts or short-staffing. And they are being asked to write increasingly complex stories amid the challenging backdrop of a pandemic.
Those fortunate enough to be able to work from home may have had a stressful and time-consuming commute eliminated. But what home offices offer in convenience, they may lack in privacy.
Work-from-home environments can be dimly lit, overwhelmed with clutter and reminders of unfinished projects, or makeshift spaces that don’t offer a boundary between “work” and “home.” Further blurring the line between work and play is the potential presence of children, spouses, or other family members, resulting in reshuffling a typical workday to accommodate the reality of these living situations.
Temporary or acute stress can be positive. It releases adrenaline and other hormones that lead to the “fight or flight” response and heighten our performance. But when stress persists, it may contribute to long-term health issues.
The emotional toll of stress can result in sadness, anxiety, irritability or anger, mood swings, other changes in behavior, and insomnia. Physically, stress can present itself in muscle tension, headaches, and a lack of energy.
Everyone experiences and handles stress differently. To better understand your own stress triggers and how you respond, try to identify specific events or situations that create stressful feelings. Note what signals your body sends you to communicate that it’s stressed.
Journal any unhealthy habits (e.g., overeating) that you may be using as a coping mechanism. This will help you identify where changes can be made.
Being in tune with your body will help enable you to manage stress instead of letting it become debilitating.
If you know what your stressors are and how your body responds, you can learn how to manage and diffuse those feelings to hopefully mitigate stress-induced symptoms.
The APA offers specific tips for coping with stress at work, chronic stress, and traumatic stress, but the tips below apply to any type of stress you may be experiencing.
Leaning on friends and family for support is difficult when many people are isolating and common gathering places are closed or require distance. But a strong social network can do wonders for your stress levels. Don’t hesitate to discuss your problems with your partner or another trusted family member or friend to help alleviate tension.
Remember to prioritize yourself and reach out for help if you are stressed for prolonged periods of time or feel like your stress management techniques are not working.
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