Stress management isn’t an exact science. How we manage stress depends on numerous factors such as personal preference and cultural practices. For example, stress management techniques for urban millenials include wearable gadgets and mobile apps. Older immigrants from Asia and the Middle East often seek rest and relaxation at a bath house.
On the other hand, dealing with stress isn’t simply a matter of “what feels good”. Many stress management techniques have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety by scientific studies. Other techniques are backed by compelling anecdotal evidence, even if they lack scientific merit. Then, there are the techniques that you should avoid at all costs. What’s sad is that many of us do them anyway, mainly out of habit. Here are 5 of the most common, yet unhealthy ways to deal with stress:
Drinking to cope with stress is so common that most people won’t even acknowledge it. In fact, people get downright defensive about their right to a glass or two of wine after a long day of work. If you can keep it to one or two glasses, that might be okay. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do when you use alcohol as a coping mechanism. It’s even worse if you have a genetic predisposition to alcohol. Even without a family history of alcoholism, its highly addictive nature makes alcohol an extremely bad choice for stress management.
Smoking (and that includes E-Cigarettes!)
Tobacco products are linked to cancer, lung and heart disease. In addition, nicotine causes spikes in your blood pressure and heart rate. These physical symptoms mirror anxiety, thereby making you feel stressed. As for e-cigarettes, most people assume that they’re safe. They may be safer, since they lack tar and other toxic gases found in tobacco products. However, they still contain nicotine and other chemicals that may not be safe for long-term use. Along with mirroring stress symptoms, nicotine is highly addictive. Thus, you can end up addicted to e-cigarettes, the same as you would with regular cigarettes.
This is a great stress management technique — if your comfort foods are fruits and vegetables. In reality, most comfort foods are high in calories, sugar and fat. Aside from the health concerns, using food to fill an emotional void doesn’t make sense. It’s also dangerous, leading to health problems like weight gain and diabetes. Emotional hunger is tricky because it feels very much like physical hunger. However, emotional hunger is triggered by negative feelings and situations. Hence, it always results in regret and shame, rather than satisfaction.
It’s the ultimate oxymoron: wasting money as a way to deal with stress and depression. It feels great at first, but material goods don’t provide long-term solutions. Even worse, it can escalate into a shopping addiction. Shopping addiction can lead to financial ruin and compromise relationships with loved ones. These consequences often result in stress and anxiety. Compulsive shoppers can also develop mood disorders, or turn to other addictions to cope with the shopping addiction.
Avoid stressful situations
Ironic, isn’t it? But remember, this is about stress management techniques, not stress avoidance techniques. Furthermore, stress comes into our lives without invitation, and avoiding it only makes things worse. For example, let’s say the noises from a neighbor’s remodeling project is driving you up the walls. Instead of putting up with it, approach your neighbor with your concerns in a friendly manner. Even if your neighbor isn’t receptive, you’ve at least made an attempt to deal with the source of your stress. Just knowing that you took some sort of action can help you feel less stressed.