Sometimes it seems like stress from life, love and work is taking over. But sometimes the way we handle it just makes it worse. Here’s how we might be raising our stress levels, according to holistic psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan.
- Blowing things way out of proportion – When you jump to the worst-case scenario and worry about the “what if,” it’s called catastrophizing. So why do we do it? Brogan says it’s because we don’t trust the universe that everything will work out in our favor. But it’s not healthy to freak out about something that hasn’t happened and might not ever. So try to stop it before it starts by waiting three minutes to react to what’s making you worry, she advises. Go for a walk if you can to calm down and change your reaction.
- Skimping on sleep – You might think that getting more work done is worth getting less shuteye, but it makes it harder to deal with a stressful day, too. Our bodies reset when we’re asleep, so missing that time can mess with our stress hormone levels and that on top of sleep deprivation can lead to being exhausted and frazzled. And nobody wants that!
- Relying on take out – The foods we crave when we’re stressed – comfort food and fast food – aren’t usually the healthiest choices. And even though fries might taste good, over time, a poor diet could lead to obesity, diabetes and other illnesses that would be totally stressful. So aim for less processed foods, less sugar and healthy fats like avocado and nuts.
- Obsessing over stuff that already happened – Some of us ruminate, which is obsessively thinking about something that already happened and how we could have changed it. Basically, it’s stressing about the past and it’s pointless. To get out of your head, Brogan recommends meditation that gets you focused on your breathing instead.
- Loading up on caffeine – What else are we supposed to lean on when we’re always tired, stressed and overworked? When there’s no time to slow down, a few coffees can get you through the day, but it doesn’t help the big issue. It’s better to put down the coffee and get the sleep you need or a day to relax.
- Reacting immediately and freaking the eff out – When things already aren’t going well and something else happens, it’s really easy to freak out. But that spiral is only going to make you more stressed. So try Brogan’s technique of pausing, disconnecting and meditating instead of reacting right away. Process what’s going on and then deal with it.