Image Source: Unsplash
Stress is unavoidable. It’s also very common. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, three out of every four Americans experience at least one symptom of stress per month. While experiencing some stress in your day-to-day life is normal, it can become a problem when stress starts to take over.
Unfortunately, we often look for ways to alleviate the stress that ends up perpetuating the cycle further. Instead of trying to find a positive and productive solution, it’s common to look for quick fixes or ways that make us feel instantly better.
Simply ignoring stress can be tempting. After all, if you keep something out of sight, it will eventually leave your thoughts, right? That usually isn’t true when it comes to stress and whatever might be causing it. Facing your stress head-on with productive, effective techniques like deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and even therapy is the best way to combat it and feel more at peace.
Before you really start to conquer your stress, though, you have to know what to avoid when you’re trying to get rid of it. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at some of the unhealthy habits stress tries to lure us into, and what you can do to combat them.
1. Poor Eating Habits
When you’re feeling stressed, looking for instant comfort isn’t uncommon. One of the easiest things to do is to reach for your favorite sweet treat or salty snack. Stress eating is a big problem for a lot of people. When the body is stressed for a long period of time, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol boosts your appetite and can cause you to eat more than you usually would. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re likely to reach for comfort foods that make you feel good. Unfortunately, the “high” you get from eating junk food doesn’t last. It can sabotage your weight loss goals, increase your risk of diabetes, and contribute to high blood pressure. If you do tend to “stress eat,” have some healthier snacks on hand or nutritious recipes you can whip up when you need to satisfy your cravings.
2. Laziness and Poor Sleeping Habits
Strangely enough, people tend to go one of two routes when it comes to sleeping while stressed: Either they sleep too much and aren’t motivated to do very much, or they sleep too little and don’t get enough rest.
There are problems with both of these bad habits. When you let stress make you lazy, it’s a cycle that only gets worse with time. For example, if someone at work is stressing you out, you might be less motivated to get your work done or even keep your office organized. That can leave you feeling even more overwhelmed and can impact your productivity. That lack of motivation can seep into your home life, too. When you think about self-care, think about how you treat your living space. If it’s cluttered, unorganized, and chaotic, it will be hard to feel peaceful and calm, even in your own home.
Laziness due to stress can also impact your relationships. Stress often causes fatigue, so you might try to make up for it by sleeping too much, but it will often only make you feel worse.
On the other hand, it’s important to get enough sleep in order to combat stress, too. If you’re not getting enough rest at night, not only will it likely increase your stress levels, but it can contribute to other mental and physical health issues, as well as decrease your ability to get along with others.
3. Isolating Yourself from Others
When you feel stressed, the last thing you probably want to do is go hang out with your friends or go to a family function. Instead, spending the night at home on the couch probably sounds more appealing.
While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing at home by yourself from time to time, if you’re doing it because you’re stressed and overwhelmed, it’s likely not the “fix” you’re looking for. It can perpetuate even more feelings of stress and can lead to depression.
Instead of isolating yourself, reach out to family members and friends. Contact the people in your life who make you feel relaxed and happy, and ask them to do something fun with you. Go on an adventure or take a trip somewhere new, like the mountains or anywhere that allows you to experience nature (another stress reliever!).
A support system can make a big difference when you’re dealing with stress, and they can help to pull you out of the unhealthy habits you might otherwise turn to.
By taking note of any of these temptations, you can work harder to fight against them and deal with stress every day, so it doesn’t take over your life.