TAMPA, Fla. — More people are feeling stressed.
In fact, more than one in four people said they expected to be more stressed at the beginning of the year. That’s an increase from 2022, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
For Tampa resident Rachel Dix-Kessler, tennis is her way to deal with stress.
“I love that when you are playing, you don’t think about anything else,” she said.
She’s played tennis since she was a freshman in high school.
“I like that it’s physical activity,” she said.
It’s more than exercise, though it’s also good for her mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 65 percent of people said they would exercise more to help with stress.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said. “And especially, I’m a type-A person, so I think a lot of things. I want to be perfect, which in reality, that’s not possible.”
She’s also been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but tennis has become therapeutic. Even low or moderate exercise significantly lowers stress levels, according to the National Library of Medicine.
“Being able to workout and just focus on yourself and your mind and be in the zone is a really nice outlet to away from the world I think,” she said.
She is one of many who said they have felt more stress in 2023.
Mental health counselors like Robert Ryan have seen more people seek therapy due to increased stress.
“The pandemic sent a lot of people home,” Ryan said. “And then people stopped having a wall between home and work and they end up working 24 hours sometimes.”
Ryan has been a counselor since 2008. He’s worried that even after the pandemic, stress levels continue to rise. Ryan said it can help to find a hobby.
For Dix-Kessler, after tennis means returning to her normal days working as a media strategist.
“It’s a very supportive place,” she said of her job. “We talk about stress and mental health right now and my work is a place that allows you to show up no matter who you are, even if you live with anxiety like I do.”
She also finds stress relief in a familiar place for a lot of people: their pets.
“The past two years have been a lot,” she said while playing with her dog, Milo. “It’s been a lot. We went through a global pandemic and now there is talk of a recession I think there has been a lot of change for a lot of people.”