Some of the things that cause you to feel stressed out are easy to identify: rush hour traffic, too many bills, too little money and entirely too much to do at work.
These are life’s obvious stressors. They’re the ones nearly everybody faces and chances are good that you could find endless information about dealing with them with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a smartphone screen.
But what about the other stressors, the less obvious things you’re doing to yourself that are putting your health, well-being and ability to achieve your goals at risk?
These are the stressors that almost nobody talks about because not a lot of people know about them. They’re unexpected but every bit as common–and damaging to your health–as the everyday stressors.
Here’s a look at nine unexpected stressors that are messing up your health–and what you can do about them:
1. GOING TO BED TOO LATE
There are only so many hours in the day, and you can’t (and shouldn’t) stay awake for all of them, regardless of much work you have to do or how many Netflix shows you think you need to watch.
Getting enough sleep is essential to your mental, emotional and physical health. When you stay up too late, you’re cutting down on the number of available hours you have to devote to sleeping. You’re also more likely to wake up with a head full of negative thoughts, ruminative worries and an overall bad mood.
So go ahead, turn off the TV, put the work away and go to bed.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a little white lie or a dinosaur-sized deception, lying of any kind is bad for your health.
Lying can mess with your mental health by putting extra pressure on you to remember who you lied to, what you told them and how to keep the lie alive. It can mess with your physical health and actually cause gastric distress. And it can cause you constant stress over feeling of guilt.
3. DRINKING TOO MUCH CAFFEINE
A little caffeine can be a good way to stimulate your mind and body. But too much caffeine (more than 300-milligrams a day) can elevate your anxiety, adrenaline, cortisol and blood pressure. Add it all up, and you’re pouring a lot of extra stressors down your throat and into your day. [Talk about caffeine half life time (8 hours)]
4. DRINKING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
Okay, this stressor isn’t exactly unexpected. Most people know that over-imbibing comes complete with a keg full of negative consequences. But what a lot of people don’t know is that even a moderate amounts of alcohol can interfere with the REM stage of your nightly sleep cycles–and you know how important a good night’s sleep is to your health.
Don’t get the wrong idea, exercise is good for you. It’s actually a great way to help manage the stress in your life.
The problem with exercise comes when you exercise too little (which isn’t unexpected) and when you exercise too much (which a lot of people don’t think about).
Overdoing it at the gym or on the running trails can lead to injuries, difficulty falling asleep, exhaustion and a lack of focus and motivation. Over-training can also cause you to make fewer gains toward your mass, weight-loss and overall health goals.
6. WORKING FROM HOME
Yes, working from home is a perk that shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, it can be a great way to manage stress–if you’re working from home during normal business hours.
The problems start when you’re constantly checking your e-mails from home during your “off hours.” Doing this doesn’t allow you to ever escape the stress of work. You never get to turn off your mind, relax and focus on something other than work. That’s a bad thing for your health.
7. TOO MUCH NOISE
Studies have shown that being exposed to unrelenting noise can jump-start your body’s cortisol response, which elevates your stress and anxiety levels.
So whether it’s your noisy neighbors, the constant honking of car horns or the co-worker in the cubicle next to you who refuses to quiet down, you need to find ways to block out the noise. You should also make time for quiet. Put in ear plugs on the bus to work. Turn off the radio. Meditate. Quiet time allows your mind to recharge.
8. PROCESSED FOOD
Foods with a lot of saturated and trans fat, sugar or chemical additives jump-start your body’s cortisol response. In other words: Eating processed foods will make you feel more stressed than eating fresh, healthy foods.
Of course, if you spend all your time obsessing over everything you eat you’re going to feel an added amount of stress, too.
So instead of “dieting,” just commit to eating a well-balanced, healthy diet full of fresh foods.