Many of us have habits we don’t even realize we are doing, and what’s worse is that we have no idea how detrimental they are to our psyche.
Even devices like our phones, “take these more stressful environments and put them into our homes and our bedrooms,” according to John Torous, MD, co-director of the digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School. He also believes “being cognizant of the stressors tied to your phone and how you’re letting them into your life is very important.”
Our phones aren’t the only seemingly harmless things that could be stressing us out without us being aware of it.
With help from various experts in the field, we decided to look at some of the innocuous things that could be stressing us out daily.
5 Inconspicuous Daily Stressors
1. Junk Food For Breakfast.
Many of us pay no mind to what we eat for breakfast. Shanna Levine, MD, instructor of internal medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says that “If your main fuels are simple carbohydrates…that’s not an efficient energy source. You’ll find that you become hungry very quickly and feel tired much more quickly. If you don’t have enough energy to get through the day, it makes it difficult to keep a healthy mindset.”
Solution: To avoid the fatigue that comes from a sugary carb-loaded doughnut or pancake crash, Levine recommends eating something high in protein and healthy fats, a fruit or veggie smoothie or a sandwich with egg, avocado or nut butter for breakfast will be much more nutritious. Also, remember to drink lots of water.
2. Constantly Being Online.
Staying in touch with friends seems so much easier these days thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. The down-side is that they are no replacement for true human interaction.
John Torous says “You can feel very engaged in online or computer-based social networks, but having real human contact with people is even more important. Sometimes you’ll get tricked into thinking, ‘I have this network of Facebook friends and Twitter friends,’ but it’s crucial to cultivate relationships offline, as well.”
Solution: Set aside time in your schedule that is filled with activities that are offline and not computer based. This will leave you with time to engage with friends and family, plus it can help break up the monotony that comes with the work-week.
3. Not Enough Exercise.
Getting home from work, the first place we go is to the couch in the living room in front of the TV, and that distance covered doesn’t exactly qualify as exercise (unless you live on like the 100th floor and the elevator is out of order).
Torous mentions that, “Evidence shows that exercise can be one of the most effective treatments for anything in healthcare, be it mental or physical,” to which Levine adds, “Exercise releases endorphins that can energize you and improve your mood.”
Solution: Starting with a goal of 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity about five times per week Is what Levine recommends. “The key is to find an exercise schedule and form of physical activity that feels sustainable to you If it fits in your lifestyle, that’s better than saying you must go for 20 minutes a day at an intense heart rat,” says Torous.
4. Irregular sleep patterns.
Going to bed at a different time each night might not seem like a big deal, but according to experts, it can have serious consequences.
Torous says “An irregular sleep schedule goes beyond depleted energy levels and the inability to concentrate. It also increases your production of cortisol, which is tied to stress.” He also makes a point that many mental illnesses can be associated with unhealthy sleep patterns.
Solution: Getting a solid eight hours of uninterrupted slumber is what Levine suggests. “That means avoiding stimuli at night — whether that’s from phones or the TV — within an hour of intended bedtime. Avoiding caffeine and not exercising too late are also helpful.”
5. Ditching Good Habits.
Quitting on things that make us happy can be particularly counter-conducive.
According to Dr. Torous “A lot of times, when people are feeling well and good, they stop doing the things that keep them both physically and mentally healthy. They’re so happy that they kind of forget those little things they did over time. That’s one of the main reasons for relapse.”
Solution: If you find yourself satisfied with a certain habit or routine you may have picked up, don’t suddenly omit it simply because it has helped, even if you think it is of no use to you any more.
Basically, the bottom line is that if you want to reduce stress in your life, you need to pay more attention to the things in your life that involve YOU. Be mindful of what you put in your body, who you spend time with, the moments that make you happy, and most of all, get some sleep!
Related: 6 Tips That Increase Mental Strength