There are certain habits in life that create healthy living conditions, like working out on a regular basis, meal prepping for a healthy diet and making time for your family and friends. Then there are those stress causing habits that we need to learn how to quit doing before it’s too late. These are the habits that are detrimental to our psychological health and thus become a danger to our physical health as well. So what are stress causing habits that you should quit and which habits are virtually harmless? Keep reading and find out…
Stress Causing Habits
1. Drinking Caffeine
Your alarm goes off and the first thing on your mind as you drag yourself from the comfort of your bed is the jolt of energy awaiting you in that first cup of morning coffee. As you stroll into work you pour yourself another glass to keep your creative juices flowing, and by mid afternoon you’re reaching for your mug again to keep yourself from crashing before your work is done. On your way home you swing by your favorite coffee shop for one last pick me up before you head home to help keep you sane during your evening festivities. Sound about right?
You aren’t alone. Many people drink coffee, tea, soda and other caffeinated beverages throughout the day to keep their energy levels at peak performance so that they can get the most out of the day. The problem with this is that caffeine can cause your body stress without allowing it a proper release. Caffeine keeps you going even when your body is begging you to stop, and at some point it will catch up to you. Rather than pushing aside your body’s natural needs and picking up another glass of caffeine, try going to sleep a bit earlier to get adequate rest or giving yourself a day of rest without worrying about any pending obligations.
2. Missing Sleep
Even if you aren’t a caffeine-aholic you may still suffer from chronic inadequate sleep. Whether you have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep or finding the time to sleep you are doing yourself a disservice every night that you skimp out on a quality sleep. Unfortunately the less sleep you get the more stressed you tend to become, and the more stressed that you are the harder it may be to relax your body and achieve the deep restorative sleep that you need.
There are a few things that you can do to assist your body towards a healthier sleeping pattern though. One of the most effective ways to achieve better sleep is to re sleep train yourself. Your parents probably did this when you were younger but somewhere in adulthood we tend to lose this skill. To sleep train yourself it’s important to keep electronics out of your bedroom, set a bedtime, create a before bed routine to prep your body for sleep and hold yourself accountable. Make going to bed without technology, on-time and with a routine a habit by doing it every single night, even on the weekends.
3. Eating Take Out
Improper nutrition not only causes stress on your body because it’s not getting adequate nutrients to maintain healthy functioning, but it also creates stress on your mind. Having to worry about ordering lunch, picking it up and making it back to the office within your lunch break can cause you unnecessary stress even if your job offers the average hour long lunch break, this stress increases as the allotted time for lunch decreases. It can be just as stressful to worry about having enough money to stop for dinner on the way home whether that means a restaurant meal or a quick stop for fast food.
There is a simple and cost effective solution that will significantly reduce your stress levels though. All you need to do is apply the practice of meal prepping to your life. Once per week buy for, cook and package all of your meals for the coming days and watch how much simpler your life can become. Grab your pre-made lunch in the morning and head off to work knowing that lunch is covered and your break is spared. You’ll love coming home to a home cooked meal every night after work. As an added bonus, the meals you prepare for yourself will likely be much more nutritionally sound than takeout and will save you a ton of money.
4. Reacting Rather Than Responding
When you are stressed out about something it is easy to allow your emotions to run the show, but this only causes more stress and anxiety over time. This is because once you are in a better state of mind, and have had a chance to calm down and assess the situation you are likely to feel anxious, nervous or uncomfortable about the way in which you handled yourself. You may replay the scenario in your head for hours or even days increasing your stress levels over something you no longer have the power to change, and thus increasing the likelihood that you react emotionally rather than respond intellectually again.
Rather than giving your emotions all of the power and immediately reacting to a situation that has made you uncomfortable take a step back and give yourself time to process the information from an intellectual standpoint. Once you have had time to cool off and think about the situation in a rational manner you will be in a better position to respond. Professionals suggest removing yourself from the situation both physically and mentally and meditating before returning to the problem with a clear head.
5. Obsessing Over The Past
Unless you’ve got Doc Brown’s plutonium powered DeLorean, there is no way to change the past. You cannot go back in time and alter your decisions or fix your mistakes. You can only learn from them, move on and make better decisions and fewer mistakes in the future. Obsessing over the past is harmful to your physical and mental health and yet most of us have done it at one time or another in our lives. This type of stress is completely avoidable and therefore unnecessary.
There are many ways to avoid over thinking your past and letting go of the stress centered around things that have already happened and you no longer have any control over. All you have to do it find the path that works best for you, whether that means daily meditation to clear your mind and put aside your anxieties, daily workouts to focus your attention on physical improvements or simply taking a few minutes after a mistake is made to forgive yourself.
6. Blowing Things Out Of Proportion
Unlike the past, you actually do have a bit of control over what happens in your future. But that doesn’t mean that you should be running around worrying about how every move you make is going to affect it. Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet can be just as stressful and demoralizing as worrying about things that have already happened. This is because the fear of failing or being ‘less than’ can be debilitating. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to improve your chances for success without causing more stress to your life.
Rather than worrying about what may or may not happen, you should instead focus your attention on improving yourself. Take a step back and think about what your goals are then make a list of realistic ways in which you can improve yourself physically, mentally or emotionally to better prepare yourself to achieve your goals. There is more to life than the destination, and when you worry about where you are going rather than how you are going to get there, it makes the journey much more taxing.
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