Productive And Destructive Ways To Deal With Stress

July 20, 2018  |  
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When you’re under a lot of stress, you obviously aren’t thinking as clearly as you are when you’re relaxed. You have cortisol levels shooting through the roof, fogging your brain. Anger also tends to accompany stress, which really doesn’t help in the good decision-making department. That’s why so many of us do things when we are stressed, that we believe will alleviate our stress but actually make matters worse. But, when we make bad decisions out of stress, they can have repercussions that cause more stress, and so the cycle continues. While you’re currently calm and collected, make a mental note of these best and worst ways to handle stress. That way, next time you are very stressed out, and you get that urge to do something you shouldn’t…you can hold yourself accountable. Here are productive and destructive ways to handle stress.

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Worst: Canceling on your friends

You may want to cancel seeing your friends because you feel like you have too much on your plate, and being social is just another task sucking up your time. You may even want to be a little cold towards your friends, and make them feel like they’re stressing you out by trying to see you.

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Best: Stepping away for a moment

It’s actually best to be with your friends right now and the people who have nothing to do with the stressors in your life. They can remind you, really, how small a lot of our problems are and that so long as we have loving relationships, everything will be okay.

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Worst: The angry Facebook rants

Try to avoid social media when you’re stressed out. You know you just wind up writing an angry rant, and that rant attracts other angry people, who write cynical and angry comments, only fueling your stress and rage more.

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Best: Making a gratitude list

Instead of writing an angry rant, write a gratitude list. You’ll be amazed how quickly your blood pressure normalizes and your heartbeat regulates itself when you focus on the good things in your life.

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Worst: A shopping spree

Don’t hit the shops when you’re under stress. You know how hard it is to resist an adorable (expensive) outfit when you’re happy—just imagine how much money you’ll drop when you are looking for anything and everything to distract you from your troubles.

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Best: A stay-cation

If you want to treat yourself, do so in a contained way that actually addresses your stress. This could be through a stay-cation, full of aromatherapy candles and meditation, or through a day at the spa. At least at a spa, you pay the one-time fee to go inside, and the rest of the experience is pretty much money-less.

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Worst: Binge eating

Don’t binge eat—you know it never leaves you feeling better. It leaves you feeling angry with yourself, and then you feel pressure to hit the gym extra hard when you don’t even have time to hit the gym regular hard because you’re busy and stressed.

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Best: Exercise

Do make some time for exercise. It always helps you feel better. It releases endorphins, and naturally takes your mind off your troubles as you focus on your surroundings during a walk or jog.

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Worst: Tackling the issue right away

While you may want to force a solution and try to fix everything right away, resist that urge. You may just make other people angry, or do things in a way you’ll later regret.

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Best: Take care of what you can control

Think of the things in your life you can control like, cleaning your home, researching better insurance policies, meal prepping, or finally painting that guest room.

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Worst: Bailing on you-time

Don’t cancel that time you put aside to do yoga, meditate, read a book, and just relax. You may think you’re somehow winning if you bail on you-time to get stuff done, but you’ll probably just do a bad job at the other tasks because you haven’t addressed your stress.

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Best: Taking a bath

Baths are so calming. The sound of water, the warmth on your skin, the embryo-like environment of the tub, the smell of the bath bomb, and the built-in alone time.

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Worst: Drinking lots of alcohol

Don’t turn to hoards of alcohol when you’re under stress. You’ll wind up losing your inhibitions and sending an email you regret, making a purchase you regret, or doing something impulsive that feels good in the moment and makes your life worse tomorrow.

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Decent: Having one drink

One glass of wine can have calming properties. Just, keep it to the one. Consider going out for a drink with a friend, rather than drinking alone at home—it’s too easy to overdrink alone at home.

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Best: Evaluate what can go

Think about the tasks and responsibilities in your life that you don’t really need there. Evaluate your to-do list, and see if there are some things that you really don’t need to do.

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