Stress is never a welcome addition to our lives, but it’s a necessary evil of life that we must learn how to deal with constructively. Here are six toxic habits you need to quit during stressful times.
Hanging out with unsupportive people
The company you keep plays a significant role in your mental health. If you find that you are consistently spending time with people who bring you down, encourage you to take part in unhealthy behaviors, or do anything less than make you feel like the best version of yourself – it’s time to reevaluate your friendships.
There’s a common saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Do some personal reflection and think about who those people are in your life. If you don’t like what you see, make a change to inject some positivity into your life at the relationship level.
Abusing alcohol or drugs
When we become stressed, it’s easy to turn to the numbing effects of alcohol or drugs to help us relieve anxiety. But using alcohol to deal with stress is never a good idea. Not only is it physically unhealthy, but it also will only make you feel worse by the time the effects of the “high” wear off.
At the end of the day, using alcohol or drugs isn’t a solution; it’s a distraction. It’s a way of procrastinating on dealing with the issues that are causing you stress. When you are feeling overwhelmed, seriously limit your consumption of alcohol, and try your best to deal with problems head-on.
Just as many people turn to alcohol or drugs during stressful times, there are others among us who turn to food to numb or suppress feelings of stress. Emotional eating, which is a response to feelings of stress characterized by “eating high-carbohydrate, high-calorie foods with low nutritional value,” takes a physical toll on the body. Eating these high-carb, high-calorie foods makes us feel sluggish, unmotivated, and, ultimately, worse.
To combat emotional eating during stressful times, pay close attention to your body’s needs. Are you actually hungry, or are you eating for emotional reasons? It can be helpful to repeat this question out-loud to ourselves when we first get the urge to indulge.
When something is bothering us, it can be hard to quiet our minds and get restful sleep each
night. Especially if our stress is work or production related, sleep becomes a counterintuitive practice – “How can I sleep when I have so much to do?”
However, neglecting sleep is one of the most toxic habits you can engage in during stressful times. Not only is sleep an essential physical, biological function that allows our body to rest and restore overnight, it also has significant effects on our mental wellness. Without sleep, our mood worsens, our ability to focus wanes, our body physically suffers, and our likelihood of making poor, sleep-deprivation-based decisions increases.
Even when you’re stressed, aim to get a minimum of six hours of sleep per night.
Engaging in a negativity spiral
Negativity is like wildfire – it spreads easily and can be incredibly hard to halt. The original thing that’s causing us stress multiplies, our problems seem to compound on top of each other, and we begin to think more and more about all the things that are going “wrong” in our lives. If you find yourself in a negativity spiral, stop immediately and take a breath. Ask yourself: “what’s bothering me?” And then write it all down in a list. Oftentimes the unknown is what causes us the most stress, so getting the stressful thoughts out of your head and onto paper will help you feel that the solution is within reach.
Overloading your schedule
When you’re feeling stressed, one of the worst things you can do is continue to load up your schedule. Most commonly, stress is caused by feeling like we’re not in control of our own lives. Take back control of your time by detoxing your schedule. Limit appointments and activities, and make time for you to just do nothing. Spending a quiet moment alone is good for the mind and the soul, and you’ll feel mentally rejuvenated after taking some personal time.