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6 Things You Never Realized Were Causing You Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life; one we must all deal with. You can’t outrun it, you can’t hide from it. People who strive to live a “stress-free life” may as well strive to walk on water. In other words, it’s not going to happen. 

Statistics tell the story here. About 33% of people report feeling extreme stress. 77% of people experience stress to the point it affects their physical health, while 73% say their stress affects their mental health. And almost half of us -- 48% -- have trouble sleeping due to stress. 

And being connected to a polarized, contentious world 24/7 isn’t helping matters. The Global Organization for Stress reports that 75% of Americans have experienced moderate to high levels of stress this past month. 

If left unaddressed, stress can have serious health consequences. Long-term issues include mental health problems like depression, anxiety and personality disorders. Stress can also lead to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack and stroke. Not to mention, high stress often manifests on the outside in the forms of obesity, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and permanent hair loss.

No amount of money, or vacation time, or hours spent in a hammock can completely remove stress from your life. It’s best to tackle it head on and find responsible ways to deal with it. 

And the first step in conquering stress is identifying the very things that cause it. These are called stressors -- something that causes a state of strain or tension. 

You’re familiar with many of the most common stressors out there, which include: 

  • Money 

  • Work 

  • Family Issues

  • Politics

  • Personal relationships 

  • The economy

  • Health and well-being of loved ones

But today, we’re going to shine a light on some of the lesser-known causes of stress. In doing so, we hope you’ll be able to evaluate what impact these things may have in your life, and how to respond moving forward. You may discover that it’s best to limit your exposure to these stressors, while in some cases, it may be best to remove them from your life altogether. 

Lack of Nutrients 

We’ve all been there: you’re in a rush to get out the door, and certainly no time for a much-needed breakfast. So you leave the house with an empty stomach, and it stays empty, for hours and hours. 

The problem is, when you skip a meal, you’re depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to run efficiently. Lack of food results in low blood sugar, which causes you to feel irritable, confused and fatigued. Then the body starts increasing production of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” which can increase stress levels. 

Worse yet, when this happens, hunger becomes uncontrollable to the point where your inhibitions go out the window. So even though you would normally turn down a greasy burger and fries for a healthier option, your brain is literally telling you, “It doesn’t matter, just eat it!” 

Easy Fix: Prepare your meals ahead of time. Even if they’re simple baggies of healthy snacks that hold you over, it’s better than eating nothing and pigging out on unhealthy foods later. 

Multitasking 

Do you pride yourself on your ability to knock out two or three tasks at once? You could be spreading yourself too thin, which can cause stress to creep into your life. 

That’s because multitasking can make a person feel overwhelmed and give them an immense sense of pressure to get everything done, which only increases stress. 

Neuroscientist Dan Levitan says multitasking is inherently stressful and increases production of cortisol and adrenaline. And according to Levitan, studies show IQ can drop as much as 10 points during multitasking. 

And if not corrected, the damage done to the brain by multitasking could be irreversible. According to David Meyer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, chronic multitasking can cause short-term memory loss and after years of it, a person may eventually have trouble doing just one thing at a time. 

Easy Fix: Make a to-do list and order tasks by importance. You don’t need to complete them in order, just focus on one task at a time. 

Too Much News 

Have you turned on the news lately? Of course you have. It seems every segment there’s sudden, dramatic music, flashy graphics and a person behind a desk announcing the latest “breaking news.” 

These programs know exactly how to hook us, and how to keep us glued to the TV, so that we feel it’s imperative that we absorb every word of their latest report. We’re conditioned to feel the need to stay in the know every minute of the day. And it should be no surprise that the 24-hour news cycle is wreaking havoc on stress levels. 

A survey from the American Psychological Association shows that more than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue, or difficulty sleeping as a result.

Graham Davey, a professor emeritus of psychology at Sussex University in the UK and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, says today’s news is “increasingly visual and shocking,” and the news we ingest can be so intense they can cause symptoms of acute stress: trouble sleeping, mood swings, aggressive behavior, and even PTSD.

Easy Fix: Set time limits on how much news you consume, in every medium. Try to limit yourself to about 30 minutes a day. 

Too Much Social Media 

On a similar note, the explosion of social media has worked hand-in-hand with the never-ending news. Both have gotten a stranglehold on our attention, and just like the news, social media can be detrimental to healthy stress levels. 

Social media has provided us access into the lives of both people we know and people we don’t that we’ve never had before. This veneer of reality distorts our own world view, and causes us to think the lives we see portrayed on social media is the standard to which we ought to be holding ourselves -- which, of course, is impossible. 

Simply scroll through your own social media feed and note what you see: a beautiful wedding, a vacation you could only dream of, family photos so perfect you’d think they belong in the frames you buy at the store… Each of these are carefully crafted snapshots of one instance, yet we subconsciously assume this must be how this person lives every moment of their blessed life. 

This causes the user to experience FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, where we feel like we’re being left out of all the fun while the rest of the world lives it up. And studies have linked the use of social media to many symptoms of stress, including depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, low self-esteem, inattention, and hyperactivity.

Easy Fix: Like with the news, limit your time on social media. Keep it to under an hour a day, and make a point to not use your phone for at least two hours before bed. 

Open Workspace

In recent years, the concept of an open workspace has exploded in America. Cubicles are being knocked down in favor of a wall-free, communal environment meant to encourage collaboration and interaction. 

Unfortunately, these well-intentioned floor plans could be a root cause of your stress, according to a recent study by Australian researchers. They found that when someone is removed from a private workspace, the increase of noise and loss of privacy were identified as the main source of workplace dissatisfaction. And the benefits of enhanced interaction didn’t offset the disadvantages in open-plan offices.

Stephen Dubner, economist, author and host of the podcast “Freakonomics,” says, “If you work in an office, you’re more likely to be stressed out, less productive and less satisfied,” because you’ve got a lot of stimuli you didn’t ask for, like other people’s phone conversations, which can be nearly impossible to shut out. 

Easy Fix: If you work in an open workspace, it’s important for you to set boundaries with your coworkers. Let them know that you aren’t to be distracted with idle chit chat for certain hours, and find a balance in distractions like music, loud phone calls and non-work activities.

Other People’s Stress

As if stress weren’t already bad enough, as it turns out, it’s also contagious. 

We’ve always suspected this to be true. That would explain when someone unloads all of their worries and troubles onto you, you’re suddenly feeling on edge, too. Or when your neighbor spends 10 minutes yelling at you for pulling out of the driveway too quickly, you suddenly find yourself in a foul mood. 

Now, science believes it has the answer, which dates back to humans’ early years. We’ve survived by having a vested biological interest in picking up how others are feeling.

“We’re social creatures and our survival, from an evolutionary point of view, very much depends on our ability to read others, whether they be friend or foe,” says Dr. Sue Varma, PC, FAPA, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Others’ intentions are made known to us in a variety of ways, particularly through how they express emotion and how they handle stress.”

Easy Fix: We don’t fully understand how other people’s experiences may be changing our moods and behaviors, but it’s important to recognize those who have a pattern of doing so. If someone is a constant supplier of stress in your life, the relationship may need to be amended or, in some cases, ended. 

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IMPORTANT: Stress is unavoidable, yet the steps you take to control it are critical. I’ve recommended one solution to thousands of patients that has helped them significantly reduce stress, increase focus and even improve sleep. 

To see my #1 Solution to Defeat Stress, click here.

 

 

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References:

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/stress/related/stress-statistics/

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body

https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/what-happens-to-the-body-when-you-skip-meals

https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/emotional-health-17/emotional-disorder-news-228/multitasking-and-stress-646052.html

https://time.com/5125894/is-reading-news-bad-for-you/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/13/heres-why-you-hate-your-open-office-according-to-science.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/social-media-use-increases-depression-and-loneliness

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