10 Unhealthy Ways to Cope With Stress

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Stress is associated with a broad range of medical conditions, including depression, asthma, diabetes, obesity heart and Alzheimer’s disease.

All of these conditions can shorten your lifespan, if they are improperly treated. Even when properly treated, these conditions still have the potential to make life difficult. The only prevention is a doable stress management strategy. However, in most cases people plagued by stress often tend to ignore the warning signs until it’s too late.

Below, you will discover a list of unhealthy ways to cope with stress.

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1. Caffeinated Drinks

Millions of people wake up each morning to a cup of caffeinated coffee, soft drink or tea. While these beverages are capable of boosting your energy levels, their caffeine content can cause restlessness, jitteriness, irritability, irregular heartbeat, depression and nervousness.

While some of these symptoms only occur on rare occasions, they can still make a stressful situation worse.

If you want to worsen your stressful life, just continue to consume that morning coffee. It is perfectly okay to enjoy a cup of coffee, but more frequent use will lead to “caffeine dependence.”

Caffeine is classified as a stimulant to the central nervous system (CNS), so excessive use will cause physical dependence.

Have you ever heard of a “caffeine crash?” If you are accustomed to consuming beverages and foods with a high content of caffeine, it is more than likely that you have experienced an episode of two.

The caffeine supply will deplete after about five hours, at which time you will begin to feel sluggish, nervous, moody, nauseated, irritable and achy.

2. Poor Sleeping Habits

In today’s busy world it is extremely difficult to get enough sleep, which is vital to good health.

Not only will inadequate sleep cause poor concentration, but also it will lead to stress, obesity, moodiness and loss of memory. Lack of sleep can also put you at a higher risk for developing diseases and being involved in an accident.

In fact, sleep loss is linked to 1,550 motor vehicle-related deaths and 100,000 collisions each year, especially in people under the age of 25.

During various sleep cycles, the brain is working to consolidate memories in your mind. And, if you fail to get enough sleep, your brain will not be able to process the memories you created during the day.

After a good night’s sleep, you will wake up feeling revived and ready to take on the day. If you are having difficulty falling asleep, speak with your primary care physician. Of course, you may just need to alter your sleeping environment and habits.

You can do this by turning off all the lights in your home, listen to calming music, read a book before bedtime and consume a cup of warm milk.

All of these will induce sleep, so try it the next time you have difficulty falling asleep. Most medical experts recommend a full eight hours of sleep each night.

Check out our video below for more tips on how to sleep when you’re stressed:

3. Consume Nicotine

Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence affects millions of people around the world. Since smoking is the most common and safest method of consuming nicotine, people also become addicted to the act of smoking and the smoking environment.

Smokers tend to congregate in confined areas at work, school and other places, because of the many enforced restrictions. These areas not only offer refuge for smoking, but also allow smokers time to catch up on the daily happenings. This is exactly why some people have difficulty laying down their cigarettes and electronic vaporizers.

Nicotine causes a broad range of symptoms, including irritability, dry mouth, difficulty falling asleep and vivid dreams. As mentioned above, inadequate sleep can lead to stress and other medical conditions.

The only way to avoid these risks is to stop smoking.

Of course, this is easier said than done, but today there are a variety of products available over-the-counter and in prescription form that can help you deal with nicotine withdrawal.

If you choose to kick the habit of smoking and follow through with it, you will be rewarded with healthier you. You will also be able to deal with stressful situations better.

4. Create Debt

Millions of people are dealing with debt, which leads to stress and depression. In most cases, a loan is required to purchase a new vehicle, home and other high-ticketed items.

While these items are nice to have, the debt is sometimes not worth it, because it can only lead to bigger problems.

While some people are able to cope with debt, others will struggle emotionally, mentally and physically. In this case, the old saying “Money can’t buy happiness” is true. In fact, too much debt can lead to sleep deprivation, poor judgment, depression, poor concentration and anxiety.

Compulsive shoppers are more likely to collect debt than other people, because they have the desire to purchase items despite of their finances. And they often use shopping as an unhealthy coping mechanism for stress.

Not having enough money left out of your paycheck to pay your bills and provide for your family will cause a broad range of problems.

The solution is to set a budget that’ll allow you to pay off your debt over time.

5. Ignoring It

A lot of people believe that ignoring their stress will make it go away. This isn’t always the truth.

When it comes to stress, there are numerous ways to deal with it. You can avoid it, alter it, adapt to it or accept it.

Unfortunately, ignoring the stress is not healthy. Ignoring the source of your stress isn’t going to fix it. The stressor isn’t going to disappear. Instead, it’ll become a permanent fixture in your life and that stress will eventually compound, until it becomes overwhelming.

Instead of ignoring the stress all together, you should do your best to avoid the source of your stress in the first place.

6. Taking It Out On Others

Many people attempt to combat their problems by taking it out on others.

This is something that they may not even realize they’re doing, until it is too late. Lashing out at a friend or family member might be a good way to dull the stress temporarily, but it is going to cause significant problems at some point in the future.

In fact, you may allow your stress to ruin your best relationships. Instead of taking it out on your family members and friends, you should use them to your advantage.

Speak with these individuals and let them know what is wrong. There is a good chance that the conversation will provide you with comfort. It may also help you find solutions to the current problems that you’re facing.

7. Self-Harm

Believe it or not, a lot of people believe that the best way to handle stress is by harming themselves. This is arguably the most unhealthy way to deal with stress.

Self-harm can definitely take your mind off of the stress for a short period, but that stress is going to come back quickly. On top of that, the results of your actions are not going to disappear. Those scars will be permanent.

Instead, you should do your best to care for yourself properly. Showing yourself some love and admiration is the best way to boost your confidence and overcome the stresses in your life.

8. Drinking Alcohol In Excess

Many people find that an ice-cold beer or glass of red wine is an excellent way to wind down after a long, stressful day at the office.

In fact, you might even be surprised to learn that most medical professionals would agree with you when it comes to consuming red wine, because it has been shown to have an abundance of heart benefits.

With that being said, you need to know that no matter what you are drinking it can truly be a slippery slope. In the end, alcohol might just end up causing you more stress than relief or benefits.

Alcohol is a depressant, so it virtually slows down the brain and the central nervous system, which can help relieve stress.

However, more and more consumption of this beverage can lead to anxiety, depression, money troubles and fights with friends and family members. This will not only increase your stress, but it will really make your stress harder to deal with.

This is especially true if you are the type of person that can’t limit themselves to one or two drinks a day.

Your best and most effective way to dealing with stress other than turning to alcohol is to find an exercise routine that will help clear your mind. Sometimes even a hot bath or a trip to the spa can relieve all that pent up stress.

9. Stress Eating

There are a lot of people out there that like to partake in the sweets, and there really is nothing wrong with this. However, when you turn to those sweets to help relieve the pressures of everyday life, you’re headed down a dangerous road.

Not only does binge eating lead to excessive weight gain and health problems, but it will also end up causing you additional stress.

The reason a poor diet can increase your stress is because it causes imbalances in the blood sugar levels, which makes stressful situations seem even more stressful than what they really are.

There are lots of brain foods and super foods out there on the market that are actually healthy and can help you cope with stress.

So, instead of reaching for that candy bar or pumpkin roll the next time you are overwhelmed, just do a little research and find something healthy that you can substitute.

Here’s a list of some stress busting foods you can add to your diet.

10. Sleeping Your Problems Away

It is true that the body needs anywhere from six to eight hours of sleep a day in order to properly function. However, sometimes people like to try to sleep their problems away rather than dealing with him.

You might think that more sleep would be a good thing. However, too much sleep can actually be a bad thing and have negative effects on the body.

Excessive sleeping habits can lead to higher risk of heart diseases, strokes, obesity, depression, and even infertility.

Avoid These Unhealthy Ways to Cope With Stress

When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s tempting to resort to “quick fixes”. However, these unhealthy stress management techniques will only give you temporary relief with long term negative consequences.

Instead, try healthier stress management techniques like changing your diet, exercise, talking about your emotions or any of the tips on this list.

Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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