There are numerous ways to reduce stress, but some are just healthier than others.
Stress is a day-to-day constant in the lives of many Americans, and unfortunately, many don’t know how to cope. This is the inability to cope with stressful events can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking or drug use.
If you are currently experiencing some type of stress, specific coping mechanisms can make you feel more stressed in the long-run. Such tools should be avoided and substituted with healthier strategies.
Since there are many positive ways to cope with stress, avoid using the ten ways below to reduce stress.
10 Things That You Think Will Reduce Stress (but really will not)
1. Ignore It
It’s true. You will encounter some problems you simply can’t solve. Some sources of stress won’t go away. However, there will be times when you must attack the cause of your stress head-on.
It can be remarkably tempting just to ignore your problems, but doing so can be even more detrimental to your health and personal life. The longer you ignore your problem, the bigger it will become, making it difficult to tackle in the future. Ignoring a problem can also cause anxiety to build up over time.
If you are currently facing a major problem you want to ignore, there are steps you can take to make your life more manageable. Firstly, you can try breaking a major problem down into smaller, more manageable steps. You can also make a realistic plan to approach the issue without losing your sanity.
If you are truly overwhelmed, it may be time to reach out for help. For example, if you are overworked, it may be time to speak with your supervisor about easing or altering your workload. If your source of stress is at home, you may need to tell your family things are becoming too much for you to handle alone.
2. Sleeping Too Much
When faced with a stressful problem, the idea of sleeping your troubles away may seem appealing. Many stressed individuals turn to oversleep when they just can’t cope. Unfortunately, sleeping too much or at inappropriate times can quickly become a problem during stressful times.
Numerous studies show that the more you sleep, the worse you begin to feel. The additional lethargy you feel from oversleeping can make it difficult to get through the day. Lethargy can also make you feel unfocused and anxious, compounding the problem at hand.
Chronic oversleeping also links to a host of health problems, including weight gain, diabetes, and heart failure. If you are facing a stressful time, it can be wise to get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and avoid excessive napping. You will feel much more rested, and you won’t have to worry about throwing serious health problems into the mix.
Many people turn to food to help them reduce stress. There is denying it – food can help us feel better. Unfortunately, when you rely solely on food to lower your stress level, you are opening yourself up to a variety of health problems.
During stressful times, individuals are more likely to consume high-sugar, high-calorie, or high-fat comfort dishes to cope. High levels of sugar and salt can put you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and rapid weight gain. It can also exacerbate problems such as constipation, acid reflux, and depression.
If you are feeling stressed, don’t reach for that bag of potato chips or a carton of ice cream. Instead, try incorporating healthier foods, such as green vegetables, fruits, and high-quality proteins into your diet. Talk about your feelings instead of eating them.
4. Abusing Drugs or Alcohol
Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with stress. However, these substances are dangerous and highly addictive, especially when a doctor does not prescribe them. Even when a doctor prescribes a drug, it can be deadly if abused. Drinking can also cause long-term damage to the human body, particularly the liver and kidneys.
Consuming copious amounts of alcohol can also be dangerous to others. This fact is especially true if you decide to drink and drive. You are also more likely to make mistakes and irrational decisions while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you suspect you may have a substance abuse problem, you should speak with a healthcare professional immediately.
Work is an important component of life. As a matter of fact, most people spend nearly one-third of their lives at work. Although work is often a source of stress, for many working too much can provide them with a sense of relief and accomplishment.
When a stressed person chooses to overwork, they are essentially choosing to avoid their problems. By working around the clock, there is no need to worry about one’s life outside of work. Unfortunately for workaholics, however, overworking can make you feel more stressed over time.
Overworking can lead to burnout, which can lead to a wealth of problems, such as depression and even more anxiety. It can also increase one’s risk of death.
6. Indulging in Retail Therapy
Virtually everyone has used retail therapy to reduce stress at some point. Unfortunately, spending money on things you don’t need will only provide a reprieve from stress. It can also lead to financial problems if you don’t budget or you spend too much regularly.
If you can reduce stress in your life, chances are, you will reduce your urge to overspend. If you do not, however, manage to reign in your spending, you could end up deep in debt and unable to meet your financial obligations. Never rely on money or material objects to make yourself feel better – confront your source of stress more healthily.
Smoking is legal. And many people view a cigarette as a reward after a long day. Unfortunately, smoking is also extremely detrimental to your health, especially if you are pregnant or suffering from health problems. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, talk to a healthcare professional near you.
Those cigarettes or vapes might offer you instant gratification. However, they can heap on the stress that comes with long-term health consequences.
8. Withdrawing Socially
Do you withdraw from others when feeling stressed? Many people do, and unfortunately, it can have disastrous consequences. Interacting with friends and family members is a natural stress reliever, and in many cases, frequent social withdrawal can be a sign of depression.
You don’t have to take an exotic vacation with your family members or spend massive amounts of money on social activities to reduce stress. The quality of the time you spend with your loved ones is far more important than where you spend it. If you are seeking affordable ideas, try engaging in the following activities with your friends or family members:
• Cook and eat a meal together.
• Grab a cup of coffee.
• See a movie or watch one at home.
• Go to the park or beach.
Stress can be overwhelming, but by spending time with loved ones, it can become less scary.
9. Drinking Too Much Coffee
Chemically, caffeine is a drug, but because of its unique nature, it belongs in a class of its own. Although there is no nothing wrong with the occasional latte or cup of coffee, caffeine can become a crutch and an unhealthy crutch at that. Stress can make us feel tired, and coffee can make us feel alert, but you may want to think twice before brewing that fourth cup of coffee during the workday.
On average, caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours in the human body. During this time, it prevents the body from fully absorbing adenosine, a naturally calming biochemical. This inability to absorb adenosine causes the body to feel alert, but those who consume too much caffeine may experience serious sleep problems down the line.
Caffeine also causes the body to release the chemicals dopamine and adrenaline, which cause the initial high. However, once these chemicals wear off, coffee drinks are often left feeling edgy and fatigued.
10. Lashing Out At Others
If you want to place a strain on your relationships, try to reduce stress by taking it out on those closest to you. Sadly, many people don’t realize they are taking their anger and stress out on others until it becomes too late. Yelling or berating a friend, family member, or coworker may temporarily make you feel better, but it can also put a permanent damper on your relationship.
In simple terms, you should never allow stress to ruin your relationships. There are healthy, reasonable ways to reduce the stress that won’t leave you feeling even more anxious. Instead of shouting and blaming, try exercising, meditation, or if you need it, talk therapy.
Final Thoughts on Learning Alternative Coping Mechanisms to Reduce Stress
Finding ways to lower stress in a healthy and budget-friendly manner doesn’t have to be hard. Simple activities, such as walking, meditating, or talking to a friend, can be immensely beneficial. Over time, they can even become your go-to coping mechanisms.
By avoiding the above, you can prevent becoming more stressed than necessary. You can also reduce stress and ensure your mental and physical health remain intact for years to come.