You’re not alone if you feel like you’re constantly on edge.
The reality is that most of us are living in a state of chronic stress, whether we know it or not whether or not we know it. It’s estimated that over 80% of the population lives with some form of continual stress, and this number goes up to 90% for those under the age of 25. So why do we put ourselves through such misery? The answer is rooted deep within our biology – and understanding how stress affects the body can help ease its negative consequences. Here are 27 ways you might be stressing yourself without realizing it:
1) You’re always multitasking
Multitasking has been proven to reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Unfortunately, most of us are doing it without even realizing it. If you constantly check social media or watching TV while working, talking on the phone, cooking…you get the idea – you’re probably setting yourself up for stress overload.
2) You never say “No” to people
Try as we might please everyone around us, we can only take on so much. Saying “no” allows us to be selective about the tasks we agree to and avoid unnecessary stress and pressure…It all comes down to knowing what you need to do versus what you want to do.
3) You’re always checking your phone
Constantly glancing at emails, texts, and social media updates keep your brain in a perpetual state of “fight or flight” – the stress response.
4) You never take breaks
No matter how busy you think you are, it’s always important to give yourself time away from work throughout the day. This will allow you to recharge and decrease stress levels.
5) You always think negative thoughts
We all have bad days, but if you find that you’re more stressed than normal, it might be time to reevaluate your thought process. When we dwell on the negative things in our lives, stress hormones are released and can stay in your system for hours or even days after the event occurred.
6) You’re constantly comparing yourself to others
We live in a world where social comparisons are inevitable. In some cases, it can be beneficial – if you’re looking to lose weight, for example, there’s no better motivation than seeing someone who has achieved what you desire. But when we make these comparisons under stress, we tend to internalize and dwell on them, which leaves us feeling inadequate and ultimately leads to more stress.
7) You don’t exercise
Exercise is a natural stress reliever – it helps the body release endorphins and decreases cortisol levels. And contrary to popular belief, working out doesn’t have to be time-consuming – even a 10-minute workout will suffice.
8) You never take a second to relax
Relaxation is important for all aspects of our health, but it’s especially crucial during times of stress. It allows the body and mind to recalibrate and prepare itself for whatever challenges lie ahead.
9) You work too much
Constant overwork leads to burnout and eventually resentment towards the job you love most. Taking time off for yourself is crucial to easing stress and preventing it from returning.
10) You engage in risky behavior
Intense, emotional experiences like dangerous sports or unprotected sex release huge amounts of adrenaline – one of the key hormones involved in stress. The problem with this type of “adrenaline-pumping” is that it keeps your body in a heightened state of arousal and can actually lead to further stress.
11) You never get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation has been linked to not only increased levels of cortisol but also weight gain and impaired judgment. Getting at least seven hours of quality sleep every night is crucial for maintaining an effective stress response.
12) You’re constantly doubting yourself
Self-doubt is one of the biggest causes of stress in our lives. Constantly second-guessing yourself causes your body to release cortisol and limits your ability to make confident decisions. Try to center yourself by reminding yourself how capable and intelligent you really are (yes, we mean you).
13) You’re surrounded by toxic people
Everyone has that one “annoying” friend. If you find yourself stressed out far more often than not in their presence, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship. Toxic relationships are never good for our health; when we spend time with negative people it can lead us to question ourselves and put us in a perpetual state of stress.
14) You’re fighting with friends or family
Family and friendships are our strongest social connections (and the ones that cause us the most stress), so it’s important to resolve conflicts as soon as possible. Keeping up these relationships is crucial for both avoiding stress and increasing your resilience against future stressful events.
15) You play too many video games
Although there are certain aspects of gaming that can be beneficial (such as improving problem-solving abilities), overindulging in them leads to lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and little exercise – all stress-inducing factors. Limit yourself to only one hour a day.
16) You’re not getting enough sunlight
We all know that sunshine provides us with Vitamin D, but the benefits of being exposed to natural light don’t end there. Sunlight boosts serotonin levels and decreases cortisol, effectively neutralizing both anxiety and depression – two key contributors to stress.
17) You’re too controlling
Though it’s important for leaders to have a vision for their organizations, constantly trying to control every situation will only make you stressed. The best way to alleviate stress in this situation is by fostering an environment of trust and delegating tasks to others.
18) You lack passion
Ever heard the saying “Do what you love?” It’s one of the best pieces of advice we can give. Do what you’re passionate about and your stress will melt away without warning.
19) You have insomnia
If you find yourself constantly exhausted but also unable to sleep, get to your doctor ASAP. Chronic insomnia may be caused by several different factors, an expert should diagnose each of which.
20) You’re too hard on yourself
We all make mistakes; there’s no such thing as a perfect human. Treating yourself with compassion and understanding will help you feel less anxious about your mistakes, leading to a decrease in stress.
21) You smoke cigarettes
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances available and can lead to numerous detrimental health effects – one of which is increased stress. If you’re a smoker, we recommend switching to e-cigs as soon as possible.
22) You drink too much coffee
Although that morning cup of Joe can provide mental clarity and boost productivity if you reach for the red mug more often than not, it might be time to switch to green tea. Caffeine can lead to anxiety, sleep issues, and depression – all of which are contributors to stress.
23) You’re always in a rush
Being late is one thing, but when you find yourself constantly rushing around it may be time for a change. Slow down! Cultivating an awareness of the present moment will help you save time in the long run.
24) You eat too much junk food
Although it tastes delicious, all of that greasy takeout adds up. Junk food has been linked to lower cognitive function and memory loss, both of which are contributors to stress. One way to avoid these negative effects is by incorporating more fruit into our diets!
25) You have poor posture
Slouching is bad for the body, but also the mind. Improper spinal alignment causes increased cortisol levels which can dramatically increase stress. If you find yourself constantly hunched over, we recommend spending some time every day practicing good posture.
26) You always put others before yourself
Although it’s noble to put others before yourself, doing so every day will only lead to increased stress. It’s important to take some time for yourself each day, even if it’s just five minutes.
27) You’re not having enough fun
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Make sure you set aside time for fun and relaxation each day to avoid stress.
This is for our list of the most common contributors to stress. As you can see, there are many ways in which we contribute to our own stress levels on a daily basis – quite often without even realizing it! Do you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors? If so, don’t hesitate to make the necessary changes. Remember, it’s never too late to start doing what you love!