According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, millenials are deemed “workaholics”.
As a result, and to no surprise, our stress and anxiety levels seem to be through the roof these days.
#DidYouKnow- Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and is the #1 proxy killer disease today?
Because it’s so detrimental to our health, it’s important to be mindful of what actually causes our stress.
Of course, we know some of the major contributors: our jobs, financial obligations, chronic illness, traumatic events-
But what about the not-so-obvious contributors?
What if I told you some of the habits you practice daily are actually harmful to your mental and physical health?
Here’s a list of the 8 most common habits that increase our stress and anxiety, and the healthy remedies to replace them.
#1 – Drinking Too Much Coffee/Caffeine
“Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response, and studies show that this can make anxiety worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack.” [source]
Remedies: Opt for only 1 cup a day and/or increase your energy naturally through exercise, complex carbs, and staying hydrated.
#2 – Watching/Reading Too Much News
Studies show that exposing ourselves to negative news increases our anxious and sad moods, facilitates worrysome thoughts, and even causes feelings of hopelessness- even when the news is irrelevant to our lives. [source]
Remedies: Checking the news less often, taking social media “breaks”, following uplifting pages to ‘outweigh’ the negativity.
#3 – Over-scheduling
We live in a society that places emphasis on accomplishments, so we tend to overfill our to-do lists. By over-scheduling, we promote emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion- which in return, reduces our body’s ability to fight antigens. [source]
Have you ever noticed that during periods of high-stress, your immune system tanks?
Remedies: Limit your to-do list and weekly/daily schedules to a specific number of tasks. For example, only scheduling 1 “outing” a day on the weekend, having a daily task-list of 5 things, and postponing items that “can wait”.
#4- Constantly Checking Your Phone
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), constantly checking your phone has been linked with stress and anxiety.
“We get hooked on the rush of dopamine we get with each new ‘hit’ of information that an email or notification gives us. Being glued to our phones means we never truly relax.” [source]
Remedy: Putting your phone on silent & not checking it for extended periods of time or setting specific times to check it (i.e. only on your lunch break, only for an hour or so at night, every 3 hours, etc)
#5 – Taking Shallow Breaths
Stress can cause shortness of breath, which in turn can lead to feeling anxious. Then, the anxiety tightens the muscles that help you breathe, and makes you breathe faster. It’s a unintentional cycle we feed into on our day to day.
“By shifting your breathing rate and pattern from short to deep breaths, you can stimulate the body’s “parasympathetic response” also known as the relaxation response- reversing feelings of panic and overwhelm.” [source]
Remedy: The 4-7-8 breathing technique: breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
#6 – Rushing After Your Alarm Clock
Did you know that there’s an affliction psychologists refer to as “Morning Anxiety”?
Not leaving yourself enough time in the morning (to prepare for the day) is one of the main contributors to this. When rushing, cortisol (the stress hormone) is sent out to your body, which can leave you feeling anxious for the remainder of the day.
Remedy: Developing a morning routine and waking up a little earlier than your usual time.
#7 – Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is a common go-to for stress-relief, but according to research, alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which actually worsens anxiety.
Additionally, “Studies are increasingly showing a correlation between anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders.”
According to a 2001 study cited by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 20% of people diagnosed with an alcohol or substance use disorder also suffer from an anxiety or mood disorder.” [source]
*Natural* Stress Remedies: Journaling, meditating (I use HeadSpace), exercising (dance, cycle, kickboxing classes), going out for a walk in nature, art therapy (painting, drawing, sewing).
#8 – Staying Indoors All Day
“The absence of natural light can throw off your internal rhythms- which regulates everything from appetite and sleep schedules to mood and energy levels.
Additionally, spending time outside in green, natural environments can boost your vitality—a feeling of physical and mental energy—by nearly 40%.” [source]
Remedy: Studies suggest spending at least 45 minutes outside per day- but of course, any amount of time is better than none!
That wraps up my list of the most common habits that increase our stress and anxiety.
Remember that stress effects us physically, spiritually, and mentally- we owe it to ourselves to actively, and consistently, implement ways to reduce it.
If you enjoyed this post, you’d love my [What I’m Going to Therapy For: What Therapy Is, What it Isn’t, & How I Chose My Therapist] post!