It seems like everyone feels stressed out these days, for a variety of reasons. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of working adults feel concerned with the amount of stress they experience in their lives. Stress not only takes a toll on our mental health, but can wreak havoc on our physical well-being, also. The survey found that people who experience a high level of stress in their lives have a greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, obesity, and hypertension.
The growing evidence about just how deeply stress can affect our lives should make us reflect on our own lives and figure out what we can do to alleviate the stress we experience.
Here are 7 habits of highly stressed people (and how to avoid them):
1. Drinking excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages
We hear conflicting reports all the time about coffee – some people say we should avoid it like the plague, and other researchers seem to think it’s practically the elixir of life. Most people would never dream of giving up coffee, but drinking it excessively can negatively affect your health. Since caffeine is a stimulant, drinking too much of it can make you feel overly anxious and contribute to insomnia, irritability, and digestive issues.
Try to limit your intake of caffeinated beverages to 400mg per day, as this amount seems safe for most adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.
2. Seeing the negative in everything
If you always see the glass half-empty, you probably have a high level of stress. Pessimistic people tend to dwell on problems, and this fixation on negativity can really ramp up your stress level.
When the world starts to look dark and depressing, remember to take a step back, breathe, and feel grateful for everything and everyone in your life. Putting things into perspective can really help you find the beauty in life, even in adverse situations.
3. Obsessing over every detail of their lives
Highly stressed people tend to have a Type A personality, wanting to control every aspect of their lives, and work hard to ensure that every little hair falls perfectly into place. However, this obsessive behavior can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety, and make you unable to adapt to new situations. Remember that you can’t control everything, so don’t try.
Only focus on things that you can change, and let the rest of the issues work themselves out.
4. Expecting perfection
As an extension of the last point, counting on perfection usually leaves us sorely disappointed. Perfection doesn’t exist, and trying to live within these parameters will surely leave you chronically stressed, unhappy, and bitter. Having unrealistic expectations of people and life in general doesn’t normally end well, because mistakes happen. The sooner you can accept this, the less stressed and anxious you will feel.
Instead of attempting to control everything and set impossible standards for yourself and others, simply do the best you can, accept everyone else’s best effort, and choose to see the beauty in the imperfections.
5. Eating their feelings
Stress eating has practically become an epidemic, as people use food to deal with negative emotions. However, there’s a scientific reason behind why people choose to eat unhealthy foods to cope with stress. According to Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School, our bodies release cortisol when we feel stressed, which can ramp up our appetite and lead us to make unhealthy choices. Not surprisingly, most people choose foods heavy in fats and sugars, which inevitably lead to weight gain if eaten in excess.
If you feel overly stressed, try to get to the root cause of the stress first, instead of reaching for unhealthy foods out of habit. The foods may seem comforting, but they only mask the real problem.
6. Overworking themselves
Work stress is also another growing problem, with 8 in 10 Americans stressed about their jobs, according to the third annual Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive. Poor pay and increasing work hours topped the list of concerns for those surveyed, which should make us really think about our chosen place of employment.
If you work at a job you don’t enjoy, plus you have to work long hours, you might think about getting a different job that suits your interests more and offers better work-life balance. On the other hand, if you actually like your job, but still work long hours, you should talk to your boss about cutting back your hours, or have a conversation with yourself if you can’t seem to pull yourself away from work at a reasonable hour.
7. Thinking too much
Above all else, this one might take the cake for reasons why people feel stressed. Our world runs on thinking; in our jobs, our home lives, at school, and pretty much everything else. We have to think in order to get virtually everything accomplished, but overthinking can lead to alot of issues later on. Our thoughts become things, they become reality, so we must take care of them if we want to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
Try meditation or yoga if you find your thoughts spiraling out of control, so you can once again find your center and eliminate unneeded stress from your consciousness.