10 Unhealthy Ways Individuals opt For to Cope with Stress

Stress is not good for your health. It doesn’t just make you feel bad, it actually makes you ill.

When we’re overly stressed, the body experiences sustained, frequent and elevated levels of anxiety and the activation of the stress hormones.

That can lead to all sorts of nasty physical effects from headaches and heart problems, to high blood pressure, asthma attacks, and gastrointestinal problems.

Below, we present to you a list full of unhealthy things that people do to cope with stress.

Drinking alcohol


Drinking alcohol is a common stress-dampening device but long-term and heavy drinking alter your brain chemistry. It fundamentally changes what your brain considers normal.

The release of higher amounts of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormones changes how your body not only perceives stress and how it responds to it.

Long-term or heavy drinking may take away the immediate feelings but also makes them worse as the brain feels more anxiety in response to stressful situations.

Smoking cigarettes


Smoking is a common stress reliever.

Beyond the health risks of smoking, not only is the relief temporary but can actually make your symptoms worse.

Like alcohol, chronic smokers are far more anxious in the face of stressful situations than non-smokers.

A recent study found that those who quit smoking found it easier to deal with stress as their anxiety diminished.

Taking drugs for calming the senses


Some turn to over-the-counter drugs like painkillers, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxers while others may turn to more illicit substances like cannabis to calm the senses into submission (temporarily).

The thing about using drugs is they cover up the problem, not fix it. Once they wear off, the temptation is there to take more and more increasing your chances of developing a dependency that comes with serious risks.

If you have found yourself coping continuously with drugs or alcohol, consider contacting a rehab center like Gallus Detox for help. You aren’t alone and there are other ways to feel better that are long-lasting.

Eating junk food


25% of Americans turn to food in times of stress.

Most turn to carbs and sugar for a temporary mood lift. After about 2 hours though, your glucose crashes and you probably feel worse than you did before.

Increasing these poor dietary choices can lead to health risks like weight gain (sometimes excessive), malnutrition, and even chronic tiredness.

Poor Sleeping Habits


Getting enough sleep is essential to good health.

Researchers are predicting that 260 million people are going to be inflicted with some kind of sleep dysfunction by 2030.

Combine stress with lack of sleep and you have a heavy cocktail for disease and a decrease in lifespan.

Not practicing good sleeping habits when you’re stressed can lead to more stress, obesity, moodiness, and memory problems. Experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for a healthy habit.

If you’re having problems sleeping or are finding activities that make sleep difficult talk to your healthcare provider.

Gambling or betting on some risky games

While there are many ways people create debt when stressed, gambling and risky money decisions are the worst.

This is the one sense where the phrase ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is true.

Gambling and risk are other addictions that pump out those feel-good hormones—if you’re winning.

Again, this is like placing a band-aid over an arterial bleed. No matter how often you gamble, win, or lose, that problem is still there underneath, bleeding out. More ‘band-aids’ are stacked on, and bigger risks have to be taken to feel better.

More often than not, these money risks pile up into even bigger problems than the stressful situation that started the need.

Avoiding responsibilities and work

Stress avoidance often mimics depression.

Not maintaining a schedule is a common response to anxiety and uncertainty. Despite social and professional schedules being a minor stress in our lives not maintaining them is just as harmful if not more.

Lacking a sense of structure or regular human interaction can do a great deal of harm to your mental health and have a snowball effect on your stress levels.

Caffeinated Drinks

Probably the number 1 method to deal with stress is caffeine.

It’s not a bad thing to enjoy your morning cup of coffee. Recent research says a cup or two of coffee per day is great for your health.

Frequent use of caffeine to boost energy levels can make your stressful situations worse with the side effects of excess caffeine including jitteriness, irritability, irregular heartbeat, depression, restlessness, and nervousness.

Casual sex or one-night stands


Like other addictions, the act of sex can be used to mask depression and other mental health issues and to escape pain, reduce anxiety, or cover unpleasant feelings.

Many of the coping mechanisms on this list are avoidance tactics rather than coping mechanisms. They mask the issue and cover it rather than address it and help you move past it. Casual sex is no different.

You’re far more likely to stay in this vicious cycle of behavior and it may lead to dependence on other substances as well.

Always postponing important tasks like assignments, appointments, etc.

Severe procrastination whether avoiding your stress or avoiding other stresses in life is one of the worst ways to cope with stress.

It creates an unending cycle of stress, both old and new, and we often find those stressors we’re avoiding coming back to bite us harder than they did before.

Takeaway: Stress is manageable but often needs care and attention to support people in dealing with it

There is no definitive answer when it comes to the question of the best way to combat stress, given that everyone experiences and reacts to stress differently.

However, some healthier methods to deal with stress include making small changes to your life (such as starting an exercise routine), creating habits that can help reduce general stress accumulation, getting more support from close friends/family, and scheduling regular meditation time for yourself.

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