You know that feeling — your chest-tightens, your heart beats a little faster, your palms start to get a little bit slick, and you feel like you're barreling towards a cliff in your car, dodging falling boulders and intermittent obstacles. That ever-so-pleasant feeling often kicks in due to elevated levels of stress and anxiety. Although situational stress and anxiety are likely to strike from time to time, you may actually be unknowingly making it worse. You could, in fact, have some subtle, bad habits that you don't realize make you feel more anxious and stressed. And although no one wants to actively make themselves feel anymore stressed or anxious than needed, recognizing the things that you're doing that could be exacerbating the problem could very well be what ultimately makes you less anxious and stressed. Sounds good to me.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more adults self-reported being stressed in 2015 than they had the previous year. Additionally, people were more likely to be stressed by familial responsibilities than ever before. Not only that, but women and millenials are more likely to be stressed than other groups. Not good.
Of course, there are experiences that are inherently more stressful: big life events like a major move, planning a wedding, having a baby, getting divorced, or changing careers, an important presentation at work or facing a fear can also allow fear, stress and nervousness creep in. There are strategies you can use to cope with stress and anxiety, but being aware of some of the more mundane, everyday things that can cause you to be more anxious and stressed probably can't hurt. If you're feeling more anxious than usual, keep an eye out for these 11 habits that might be contributing to it.
1. You Stay Up All Night
If you're regularly staying up all night to finish a book, work on a project, or watch one more episode, you might be unnecessarily and unexpectedly stressing yourself out. According to Elite Daily, if your sleep patterns are more varied or disrupted than usual, you may be stressed. Additionally, a study conducted by University of California - Berkeley researchers found that getting less sleep contributes to more worrying.
2. You Overreact To Everything
Hung up on that thing that your friend did months ago that left you feeling a little bit upset? Obsessing over past events can leave you stressed and worked up, according to Self. Letting things go can help you feel calmer and more at ease.
3. You Rely On Caffeine
Find yourself swinging by the coffee maker all day long? Drop that cup. According to Greatist, a lot of people overdo it on the coffee, which can raise your cortisol level and make you more anxious.
4. You Skip Social Outings
Starting to cancel plans (or no longer making them in the first place) on friends or a significant other, may be contributing to your stress. Getting together with friends, family, or significant other can be a good way to relax and take a break from events that may be wearing on you. According to the previous Elite Daily article, cutting yourself off from those you're close to can make you stressed (or mean you already are).
5. You Smoke
Although some see smoking as a way to lessen stress, Men's Health noted that smoking can actually make you more stressed. The magazine cited a study from The British Journal of Psychiatry found that nonsmokers' anxiety decreased over the course of the study. Turns out, smoking isn't the stress reliever you've heard that it is.
6. You Put Off Work Or Chores
According to Health, putting off a major work project or chores can make you even more stressed and anxious than if you just checked a few things off of your list. Though it's easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling everything you have to do, it'll make you feel better in the long run.
7. You Obsessively Check Your Email
Checking your email all day and all night can make you think that you're getting ahead, but the aforementioned Greatist article noted that your stress level increases the more you check your inbox each day. Limiting inbox checks to business hours when possible can help limit your anxiety and stress overall.
8. You Ditch Your Workout Class
It's no secret: regular exercise is a great way to manage stress, as noted by Mayo Clinic. Physical activity gives you a break from your day and helps your brain recharge. But skipping your workout can add to your anxiety and stress, according to Forbes. Squeeze in a mini-workout if need be, your anxiety will thank you.
9. You Deal With Toxic People
Toxic friends, partners, or family members can leave you feeling drained and exasperated. Dr. Erin K. Leonard, a psychotherapist and author, said in the aforementioned Health article that some of her clients who suffer from anxiety and depression are in a toxic relationship and don't even know.
10. Your Routines Are Slipping
Hitting snooze, skipping showers, or putting your makeup on during your commute? Once in a while, everyone's schedule gets a little bit busy and they need to find a little extra time in their day. But as mentioned in the aforementioned Elite Daily article, letting your normal routines fall apart can be related to your stress and anxiety levels.
11. You Constantly Try To Multitask
Nowadays, people (including me) pride themselves on multitasking. The more they can do at one time, the better. However, the aforementioned Health article noted that multitasking doesn't actually accomplish more, but it does leave you stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Put down your phone, turn off your computer, and just eat your dinner.