When tackling stress, there are 10 mistakes to avoid, writes Nadia Badarudin
STRESS is inevitable as we face the ups and downs in our lives. From the excitement of moving into a new house to the anxious feeling of not being able to meet deadlines, stress is normal and part and parcel of our daily activities.
It can be positive and can help us to stay alert and focused. On the other hand, it can harm us physically, if we are stressed for too long or too often.
Studies show that our body is physiologically designed to deal or cope with stress and react to it. The nervous system will prompt our body to release stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, and produce the fight-or-flight response when we are under pressure.
However, when we are stressed, we tend to be less logical and will be prone to making mistakes.
The following are 10 mistakes to avoid when dealing with stress:
Mistake No.1 – Skipping breaks
When having a workload to clear, some people tend to skip lunch or tea breaks (or even going to the loo), thinking that that’s only possible after the work is finished.
However, studies show that having a break while finishing a task can help refresh your mind and restore your resolve. It will make you look forward to be back on track with a clear mind and finish the task more effectively.
Mistake No.2 – Craving and binge-eating
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts! It is normal for some people to turn to desserts or comfort food when they feel down and blue.
However, instead of having just a slice of cake, an ice-cream, chocolates or a greasy, fatty dish (who eat healthy food when they feel the blues anyway?), people tend to go for second helpings or adding unnecessary toppings or side-dishes, thinking that they will calm them down or make them feel better.
Binge-eating may make you feel better momentarily but continuing the habit every time you are under pressure is likely to stress you out even more when you step on your weighing scale later on.
Studies show that giving in to cravings is just a temporary solution and is counterproductive in the long run.
Mistake No.3 – Avoiding exercise and fun activities
Stress can make people withdraw themselves from doing anything they love — like watching a feel-good movie or exercise.
Rather than enjoying outside, they prefer to stay in bed and sulk, and hope to deal with the problem later.
However, what they fail to realise is that doing just that will only bring on negative emotions.
Activities such as watching a good movie or playing sports stimulate positive emotions and will make you feel good about yourself, especially when you do them with friends.
But try not to watch violent or sad movies (or read depressing news) when you are stressed out. Research in Scandinavia shows that watching, hearing or reading negative news promotes anxiety and brings on depression.
Try not to over-exercise too, as that will lead to exhaustion and create more stress.
Mistake No.4 – Spreading stress to other people
Frustration by a situation or when they are in a bad mood, some people will vent their anger to other people, be it their colleagues, spouses or children.
Spreading such negativity will definitely bring more harm than good.
Mistake No.5 – Focusing too much on stress
Studies show that focusing on stressful thoughts actually aggravates the situation. Scientists say that “focusing on stressful thoughts is like rehearsing them”.
Mistake No.6 – Taking stress as a bad thing
Too much stress can put our mental and physical at risk of various illness and health complications. But stress is not all bad after all. In 1974, a physician and scientist from McGill University introduced the concept of positive or good stress called “eustress” in which you can actually perceive and turn a stressful situation into an opportunity that will result in a positive outcome.
“Eustress” is a positive reaction that motivates and lets you stay in control to deal with a challenge or accomplish a task. It can lead to good things including feelings of satisfaction.
Mistake No.7 – Not getting enough sleep
There are people who think that the best way to beat stress is to “sleep on it”. Some, however, skip sleeping totally, keeping their mind obsessed and occupied and hope to resolve the problem when morning comes.
Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep will backfire and affect your mood the next day. According to a research, lack of sleep will even lead to mental illness.
Mistake No.8 – Resorting to running errands or playing violent video games
Some people run errands when they are stressed, thinking it will take their mind off the problem. However, according to a study in Experimental Gerontology, running errands will make stress levels shoot up.
Playing video games may also seem like a solution. However, studies show that violent video games will put you in an anxious state of mind long after the game has ended.
Mistake No.9 – Smoking, drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs
These three vices will only create a vicious cycle which will sabotage your health and safety but also your overall emotional and physical state in the long run.
Mistake No.10 – Ignoring or procrastinating
Some people will procrastinate when it comes to settling the problem which causes them the stress. Ignoring the things that weigh them down is also not a good idea. They are afraid to confront the reality and hope that the issue will fade away or be forgotten — or magically solved on its own — over time.
Unfortunately, the problem sometimes snowball into a bigger issue and generate more stress in the long run.
To conclude, always learn to manage your stress levels well for a healthy and happy life. As American author and motivational speaker Lou Holtz says, “It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.”
Source: Adapted from Psychology Today, The Conversation, CBS News, Powerhouse Performance, Best Life & Best To Know.