For Pre-Health Students, Online Articles

3 Things to Avoid When You’re Stressed

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By: Paige Johnson

When your daily life is stressful, it’s often easy to exacerbate stress, even when you don’t intend to. Things you may consider helpful can sometimes actually prove to be the opposite, and you end up wondering why you continue to feel unwell despite these efforts.

If a person carries excess stress for too long, their overall well-being will begin to suffer. It is critical that you know how to reduce stress and find time to relax. Here are a few things you should avoid when you are already experiencing stress.

Caffeine Feeds Anxiety

It is extremely common for an overworked, stressed person to turn toward coffee for an energy boost. They may think that caffeine will make work easier and faster. Unfortunately, when you are stressed, caffeine will do more harm than good. Studies have shown that caffeine acts as a boost for anxiety which is often a side effect of stress. Though you may be more alert, you will also feel more tightly wound and distressed by your busy schedule.

Rather than reaching for the coffee pot, consider packing a chia seed energy drink. Chia seeds are a wonderful way to boost energy in a healthy way. They are extremely nutritious, packed with protein and micronutrients. Purchased in bulk, they are fairly cheap and can be eaten in a multitude of ways. One of the easiest on a busy schedule is to prepare a drink in a portable bottle.

Comfort Foods are a Myth

One of the most common things for a stressed person to do is consume comfort foods. These foods are typically high in fat and sugar and are usually eaten in excess during these events. Consuming these foods is physically bad for your health and can also be detrimental to your mental health as you feel guilty for eating such unhealthy food.

Furthermore, one study showed that comfort foods themselves do not improve mood. Eating any food you enjoy will have the same effect, meaning a big bowl of your favorite salad will have the same (if not better) effect as a pint of ice cream.

Rather than eating macaroni and cheese straight from the pot, find a healthy yet delicious recipe to soothe yourself. If you want to treat yourself, find a recipe you might not normally make due to the cost of ingredients. If you want something sweet, consider a healthy mug cake. These utilize fruit sugars rather than excessive refined sugar and guarantee a reasonable portion size.

Lazy Days Can Impact Self-Image

Everyone is guilty of finding an excuse to lounge on the couch and watch TV all day. Odds are, you probably felt a little guilty afterward. This is likely because avoiding your stress by doing nothing can make you feel useless, impacting your self-image negatively. Of course, sleep and relaxation are an extremely important part of a balanced life, but procrastinating tasks with laziness is not a beneficial act.

If you need a day of relaxation, set yourself at least one helpful task. Feeling as though you have accomplished something can allow you to enjoy a day of relaxation without the side effect of guilt. Some good ways to break up a lazy day might be washing dishes, cleaning a room, washing a load of laundry, or even just changing out of your pajamas. Even better, find an activity, such as swimming, that actually helps you burn significant calories while offering a relaxing atmosphere.

Taking care of yourself is a topic not often emphasized in mainstream society, where selflessness and taking care of others is emphasized.  However, self-care is the first step to helping others. When you’re in need of stress reduction and support, you cannot be expected to efficiently aid others. Keeping this in mind and focusing on your well-being are the first steps to less stress. Take a day to relax, eat well, and step away from the coffee.

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.

Image via Pixabay by geralt

Filed under: For Pre-Health Students, Online Articles

PreMed Magazine is a student organization that aims to inform readers on science facts and healthcare news while providing tips and tricks for pre-health students to tackle the elaborate world of medicine. While readership is primarily UGA students, publications are universally accessible.