We all get stressed out on a daily basis. No matter how much meditation you do, massages you receive, or herbal tea you drink, there are bound to still be aspects of your life that create tension. Some are more avoidable than others, while there are even more that you might not be aware of.
Aside from the obvious (a tough job, challenging classes, relationship issues, etc.), look out for these lesser-known stressors. Setting yourself up to tackle them in the new year will surely lead to a much happier and healthier 2015.
1. Sleeping poorly
We all know that getting too little sleep is bad for your health. But even if you’re getting in your 8 (or more) hours per night, you miss out on vital rejuvenation if your sleep is at all disturbed. Many of us suffer from interrupted sleep, characterized by tossing and turning, difficulty falling asleep, or waking throughout the night. There are several gadgets that will track your sleep patterns for you, but they are not necessary. Try some warm almond milk with turmeric before bed, avoid phone/computer screens within an hour of rest time, and try to wind down with something like light reading or yoga before your head hits the pillow.
2. Being too hard on yourself
Whether it’s work, school, a new diet, or an exercise routine, you are bound to be putting pressure on yourself in one way or another. Self-motivation is good, but not when it gets in the way of your mental health. Even if you don’t realize it, unrealistic goals and harsh judgment for a failure to meet them take a toll on our bodies. Be gentle with yourself, even when trying to grow or change. When self-induced stress or anxiety start to creep up, take a few deep breaths. Express gratitude for the progress you have made and where you are in your journey.
3. Never taking a break
You might like to go, go, go all the time. Maybe you get a rush from always running from one thing to the next or tackling any task that someone hands to you. Although this may fill you with adrenaline and a sense of accomplishment, it depletes the body over time. Think of yourself as a battery or a phone- how can you ever keep going if you don’t recharge? No matter how capable you are of rolling with the punches, rest is very important- even if it’s just once a week or so. Counteract the stress of a busy schedule by fitting in time for activities you really enjoy that allow you to decompress. If the thought of adding one more obligation to the mix sounds like too much to handle, maybe it’s time you cut something out.
4. Exercising too much
I have talked before about the dangers of overexercising, but I will reinforce my ideas because I think this is an issue everyone should consider. We are so often told to get moving and workout as much as possible. Rarely, if ever, do I hear the ill effects that the stress of overexercise put on the body. The truth is that too much exercise puts the body under stress (even if it doesn’t feel like it). If you think this may be the case for yourself, focus on gentler movement such as walking/light cycling or maybe give yourself a complete hiatus from the gym.
5. Spending a lot of time online
Did you know that browsing the internet for long periods of time is linked to an increase in depression? It has also been correlated with anxiety, aforementioned sleep issues, and generalized stress. I know firsthand how easy it is to get sucked into your smartphone or computer for hours on end (without even realizing how quickly time flies)! This may seem okay in the moment, but it will leave your brain (and probably your eyes) fatigued.
6. Being around negative people
Even if you don’t feel stressed out yourself, you may be picking up on the bad vibes of those around you. Constantly putting yourself around frazzled friends or nagging family members can ramp up your own stress levels over time. This year, try to spend time only around those who make you feel good (I know, easier said than done). If you still find yourself in stressful situations involving others, try to separate yourself from the drama. Make sure you take some time before and after these interactions to re-center and remind yourself that someone else’s negativity does not need to affect your life.
Stress management is an art, not a science. These are my recommendations, but be sure to decide for yourself what methods you want to initiate this year.
What other (hidden) ways does stress creep up in your life? How do you like to manage it?
Also by Quincy: 7 Inexpensive Ways to Treat Yourself
Related: 25 Best Stress-Busting Foods