This post is also available in: French
Stress is so bad for our health. It can affect our bodies and our minds, causing symptoms as diverse as headaches, depression and weight loss or gain. Worse than that, it can push us into making poor decisions and doing things that we probably wouldn’t do were we not stressed.
Dealing with stress the wrong way is really quite common, but it is to be avoided at all costs if you want to come out of the other side in good shape. With that in mind, here are some example of how people deal with stress the WRONG way.
Drinking to excess
There’s nothing wrong with having a little drink to unwind now and again, but if you start medicating your stress by drinking regularly and to excess you have a problem. Alcohol’s effects on your brain can be serious and can cause a whole host of problems, including depression and addiction.
Anyway, it won’t actually get rid of your stress. Sure, you might feel a bit better for a little while, but when you wake up in the morning hungover, dehydrated and late for work, your stress is just going to be greater than it was before you picked up that glass.
Many people who’ve successfully quit smoking in the past, take it up again when they’re feeling stressed out. This is obviously a very bad idea – you just have to look at the effects of smoking to see that –and it won’t work.
You’ll still be just as stressed out when you’re smoking that cigarette as you were before. The only reason why people feel calmer after smoking is because they have a nicotine addiction and by smoking, they’re satisfying that craving. If you’ve given up smoking long ago, you won’t feel that effect, and you will have poisoned your body for no good reason.
Eating too much
Emotional eating and stress go hand in hand for many people, but it really isn’t a good idea to up your junk food intake, or your calorie intake when you’re feeling stressed out. For one thing, eating too much will put more stress on your body as your blood pressure rises and you start to feel the negative effects of excess.
If you then begin to gain weight, you’ll probably end up feeling even worse about that. I know sometimes it’s hard to stop overeating when you’re stressed, but you really must try hard to break the habit.
Instead, maintain a healthy diet, perhaps by joining a support group for overeaters, if you want to make positive progress with your health. It really is important.
Pretend it isn’t happening
Stress is like any other health issue, and as such, you really should not ignore it. If you have any hope of dealing with your stress in a healthy way and regaining your mental equilibrium, you need to accept that you have a problem and seek help for it.
Make as many positive changes in your life to lower your stress levels as you can, even if that means finding a new job or time away from your spouse. Put yourself first!
Seeing a doctor or psychiatrist might also be a good idea if the stress is really getting to you and you can’t see a way through it yourself.
Something that many people who are under stress end up doing is isolating themselves and doing very little with their days. They spend all of their spare time in their PJs rewatching Friends for the millionth time or aimlessly searching the internet. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this does them no good whatsoever.
There’s nothing wrong with having the odd lazy day when you’re under mental strain, but if all your days sound like the above, then you are only going to feel worse. Your stress might even turn into depression.
So, make appointments with friends, treat yourself to a spa day or sign up to a yoga class right now. If you don’t do anything else, at least get some exercise because, although you probably won’t feel like it, it will get the adrenaline pumping and the endorphins flowing through your system.
All of which will immediately make you feel a bit better. If you do it regularly, expect to feel more relaxed than before.
When you’re stressed out, it should be obvious that you need to take some time out to rest and relax, but it really isn’t. So many people keep putting in 12 hours days at the office, running around after their kids 24/7, and generally not giving themselves a break.
This approach just won’t do. I know it might not always be convenient, but taking time out to relax, whether by meditating, reading a good book, practicing Tai Chi or doing whatever it is that makes you feel happy, can help you to de-stress and get back to a good place.
Ideally, spend at least one hour a day unwinding. Perhaps even set aside one weekend a month to concentrate on yourself.
Some people have a real problem with the word “no“. They just can’t seem to say it to anyone, even when what they’re being asked to do is something they would sooner avoid like the plague.
If you’re one of these people, then it’s little wonder that you’re depressed. So, next time your kid’s teacher asks you to help out with an event, your kids are desperate to go to the amusement park in the next town, or your boss wants you to stay back and look over a contract, if you know it’ll make you even more stressed then just say no!
Now that you know some of the main things that might be causing your stress to worsen, or at least be preventing you from getting better, you can avoid them. I know you won’t be able to avoid everything here all of the time, but if you do your best, then you will soon see an improvement in your stress levels. And that makes it all worthwhile.
This post is also available in: French