D.C., Stress, and Your Health

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On a busy day, Washington, D.C., can feel like the center of the universe. And, in a certain sense, it is. D.C. is the seat of power of the most powerful country on Earth, and its streets and avenues are lined with buildings housing powerful financial companies, lobbying groups, fraternal organizations, and individuals. This is a city that sets the pace for the world.

But my, what a pace it is. D.C. is a fast-talking, fast-moving city. It’s a place where deals are proposed during long working days and the details of those deals hashed out way after hours (over a cocktail at one of D.C.’s legendary watering holes, more often than not). In this city, you’re likely to burn the candle at both ends as you fight your way to the top of whatever hyper-competitive field you’re in.

And that can be stressful.

Stress can kill

The sort of stress that is typical for professionals in Washington, D.C., can have a real impact on your health. And that impact, experts say, is really bad. We’re still learning more about what stress does to our bodies and minds, but what we already know is more than enough to frighten a rational person. Stress can cause immediate problems such as headaches and panic attacks. As it builds up, it can rob you of your energy and lead to other mental health problems. And, over time, stress makes its victims more susceptible to a range of illnesses, from common colds to deadly diseases. Stress, studies show, will literally take years off of your lifespan.

Stress is common (especially in D.C.)

Clearly, stress is a serious threat to a person’s health. And that’s why it’s such a big deal that so many people in the United States (and particularly in fast-paced cities like Washington, D.C., and New York City) are suffering from high stress levels.

A stunning 75 percent of all American adults report a symptom of stress within the past month. More than 6 out of every 10 Americans reports feeling that the future of the nation is a source of stress; work, too, is a major culprit. Stress follows people everywhere, from the family home to the offices that they work in.

Stress comes from so many different sources that it’s difficult to determine how to stop it. But you can do a couple of major things to cut down on your stress levels.

How to fight stress in D.C.

You can’t block every source of stress, but you can manage your major sources. Work is an ideal place to start.

Work-life balance is a hard thing to achieve in fast-moving D.C., but it needs to be a priority for you. You deserve to have times and places where work is out of sight and out of mind; in fact, your health demands it. So set boundaries, stop answering emails at night, and take your vacation days.

This isn’t enough on its own, though. Stress and other mental health issues aren’t things that you should handle alone. Happily, you’ll find a lot of great therapists in DC to turn to. Experts agree that getting professional help from a therapist can make a massive difference in your stress levels. It’s not so much that therapy eliminates stress (though therapy can be cathartic); it’s more that therapy can arm you with strategies that will help you fight back against stress and negative thinking.

Stress is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to rule your life or threaten your health. Change your D.C. lifestyle and seek the help you deserve.

Image credit: heart health via Billion Photos/Shutterstock