Cumulative Stress: What is it, and what to do about it

Cumulative stress is an accumulation of stress that impacts bodily functioning, cognitive output, mood and your ability to function healthily.  Stress can be both positive; such as working towards a degree or getting a promotion, and negative; such as making a major life decision or experiencing a loss.  The impact of these positive and negative stressors without the balance of self-care and routine can be detrimental to your health and overall functioning, resulting in illness, injury, feelings of depletion, and inability to meet goals and fulfill obligations.

To manage your stress, “keep your bucket full,” meaning, be purposeful in replenishing your energy through adequate sleep, healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships and hobbies.  If you do not, you may end up involuntarily refilling your bucket after a sickness or injury, when you have no choice but to sit and rest.

Per the Office of Student and Community Services, Department of Student Services of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, here are some ways to combat cumulative stress:

  • Create a daily routine to help regain a sense of control
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals
  • Get extra rest to let your body relax and recover
  • Exercise
  • Let frustration and anger out through safe, exhausting physical activity
  • Ask for support from friends, colleagues, and loved ones
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
  • Limit caffeine
  • Don’t dwell on news of the crisis; gather the information you need, then turn off the TV or radio
  • Be aware of the impact of your own past experiences on your current functioning
  • Seek mental health assistance when you are concerned about your reactions.

For more information on cumulative stress, visit:

https://jamesclear.com/cumulative-stress

https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/emergency/resources/mental-cumulative.aspx

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