April is Stress Awareness Month. There are plenty of overwhelming things we try to cope with, and stress is one of them. Stress is a feeling that makes us emotionally or physically tense. This stems from events or thoughts that make us mad, frustrated, nervous, or all of the above and is not very good for your health.
We often get super-stressed during difficult times. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic and severe prejudice against Asian-Americans have been putting us and our country under pressure as we take the time to cope with these traumatic events.
I usually get stressed out when I’m burdened with work, have a time crunch, or if something, like a certain situation, puts me under pressure. When this happens, my chest tightens and I have difficulty thinking clearly or focusing on something. In addition, stressful thoughts cloud my mind so much that it becomes difficult for me to think positively. Some of them include fearing that I’ll get in trouble for making a mistake, unforgivable moments in fiction and reality, and bad memories like when I was bullied, pressured, and over-disciplined.
There are plenty of ways I cope with stress, like listening to calming tunes (world music is one of my favorites), meditating, drinking water, going on outdoor walks, and taking deep breaths. I also draw calming pictures, especially involving people helping others, comforting them, or nursing them in good health. Another thing I do is expose myself to things that are funny, as well as calming. Word of advice: exposing yourself to things that make you angry and upset only makes stressful situations worse. In extreme cases, this can bring back traumatic memories.
The best ways I can manage stress are talking to people I love and reminding myself that there are plenty of wonderful things to think about. Some of them are people caring about each other, the beautiful outdoors, and the fact that I’m never alone. Other ways of dealing with stress include writing in a journal, exercising, eating healthy snacks, drinking warm tea, reading, squeezing a stress ball, and finding creative hobbies.
Stress is a huge burden for everyone, including myself, especially nowadays. But the important thing is to handle it in the best way possible.
What happens when you get stressed? How do you manage it? I asked these questions to my friend and colleague, Jacob Ross.
“Doing repetitive work for an absurdly long period of time, in addition to when something unexpectedly gets out of control, overwhelms me. Feeling this way can be very difficult. Long work days put a lot of stress on me and my mom. Getting stressed out about the same thing I worry about overwhelms my mom, as well as me.
Some of the habits I do are unhealthy, although there are many ways to handle stress well. I manage it by doing yoga, eating junk food, taking naps, and pacing back and forth. One yoga class stresses me out a bit, but it does help me manage pressure.”
Resources for those looking to reduce their stress:
- NY Project Hope
- CDC: Stress and Coping
- American Heart Association: Stress Management
- Harvard Medical School: Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- ThriveNYC: Mental health support New Yorkers can access while staying home
Jacob Waltuck has enjoyed working in the Arts + Culture and Marketing Departments at the 14th Street Y. He also enjoys acting, visual art, and theater, and is involved in employment support programs through JobPath.
Jacob Ross has supported the 14Y Membership and Marketing Departments at the 14th Street Y, and is involved in employment support programs through JobPath.