Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Stress

stressed woman

There’s nothing quite as stressful as dealing with a global pandemic and all the uncertainties it brings. Not only has COVID-19 disrupted our everyday lives, but it has also made a huge impact on our futures. It’s no wonder people have been experiencing higher levels of stress recently.

While stress is an inevitable part of life, especially adulthood, it shouldn’t be ignored. The effects of stress are far-reaching, from triggering depression and anxiety to increasing your risk of obesity and heart disease.

What’s more, the way a person responds to stress can be more harmful than helpful. Below are a few examples of unhealthy ways people cope with stress and how you can avoid doing the same things.

1. Over or under-eating

Plenty of people who go through stressful periods either binge-eat or lose their appetite completely. Those who turn to food when stressed tend to go for sweets or their comfort food to relieve the pressure they’re feeling, which makes it easy to over-eat. Meanwhile, others lose their appetite because they’re under so much pressure they literally cannot stomach food.

2. Abusing substances

Nicotine, alcohol, and drugs are stimulants that can give someone a sense of calmness. This is why plenty of people who are stressed consume them. However, some use these substances excessively, which can result in serious health issues. Drug use, in particular, may not only have health consequences, but also legal ones. If you use illegal drugs or misuse prescribed ones, you might be in trouble with the law.

3. Compulsive spending

When a person is stressed, they might use it as an excuse to treat themselves by buying the things they want. This is often referred to as “retail therapy.” While there’s nothing with treating yourself, this can easily lead to overspending, which can cause financial troubles and add more stress to your life.

stress eating

5. Self-harming

Some people harm themselves to take their mind away from the cause of their stress for a short period. However, self-harm is probably the worst way to deal with stress out of all these. Self-harm doesn’t take away stress at all and will only result in bodily mutilations that will hurt in more ways than one for a long time.

6. Lashing out

Lashing out at others is another unhealthy way some people cope with stress. This happens because of the buildup of pressure they’re feeling, so their annoyance and anger can be triggered easily. As a result, they take their stress out on others, either by being verbally or physically abusive. This is unhealthy not only because it causes harm to others but also because it can result in feelings of shame and guilt, which can contribute to more stress.

Cope with Stress in Healthier Ways

When you’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to cling to temporary fixes like the ones mentioned above. However, the relief these techniques give doesn’t last but can have long-term negative consequences. Instead of reaching for these crutches, practice healthier ways to deal with stress such as recognising when you need help, talking about your feelings, and giving yourself a break.

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