For a multitude of reasons, the past decade has seen the highest levels of stress, depression, and anxiety worldwide in history. Stress has hit countries and generations before, but never on the massive global scale that we are seeing today.
This is due to many factors, from the increase in technology helping us to compare our lives with others and come up lacking, to the abundance of news sources spreading despair and negativity faster than the California wildfires. It’s no wonder that the use of antidepressants in the United States alone has jumped over 65% over the last fifteen years.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t have to live your life on prescription pills just to face the day. What many people don’t realize is that they are inviting the stress into their lives with the environment that they cultivate daily.
If you are ready to live a stress-free life, here are ten toxic things that you may be doing that you need to stop.
10 Toxic Things You Need to Avoid Completely in Your Life
1. Eating Junk Food
You have probably already tried to stop eating junk food, but it’s a vicious circle. Stress makes us want to eat junk because it releases multiple hormones and secretions in our brain that makes us feel good – for the moment. But for the moment is all that we care about when we are stressed.
The problem stems after the fact when you are dealing with the impact of those nutritional nightmares on your body and your brain. The toxins you have literally just taken into your body do not go away right away, and they impair your body and your brain. This increases your stress and decreases your body’s ability to handle the other stressors you deal with.
When you work productively, it feels good to cross things off of your list. You may even tell yourself you’re doing a good thing by staying busy, making money, and being useful. If you are not making time for your interests and relaxing, though, this work becomes yet another toxic influence on your life.
3. Substance Abuse
A glass of wine to unwind is healthy and even recommended by some doctors, but if you start noticing you need alcohol, drugs, or any substance to relax or enjoy life, it has become an addiction and needs to be stopped.
Read more about how these substances zap your energy and increase your stress in this post
4. Staying up Late
Maybe it’s the only way you can make time for your interests, or maybe it’s part and parcel with the problem you have of overworking. The truth is, though, that your brain needs sleep to remove the toxins that have built up there throughout the day.
Without enough sleep, your nerve cells don’t communicate with each other correctly, causing an avalanche of problems. All of these minor issues compound, creating stress on your body which manifests physically and mentally.
5. Drinking Sodas and Teas
While they taste good, they are full of empty calories, sugar and acids. These are bad for your health physically, causing stress on your pancreas and increasing your risk for diabetes.
But the other problem with drinking these sweet, sugary drinks is behind the scenes – when you are turning to these non-nutritional drinks for your hydration needs, you are probably not drinking enough water for your body to get properly hydrated and work the way it is supposed to, causing extra stress.
Like the other addictions in the substance abuse section, smoking is a go-to for many people to alleviate stress. However, many people don’t put it in the same class as alcohol and drugs because smoking is legal (over 18) and doesn’t tend to cause the problems that befall an alcoholic or a drug abuser.
But the results on your body are actually quite similar. Nicotine enters your bloodstream almost immediately, heading straight for the chemicals in our brain and causing that initial jolt. After that, though, smokers tend to feel a crash and become jittery and stressed, causing them to feel the need to smoke more and creating further toxic stress.
7. Limit Your Device Use
The reasons for this are endless. From the stresses that it causes in your relationships to the impact on your body, your mobile devices and computers are a likely cause for your stress level to spike.
In fact, experts have cautioned that too much phone use can cause stress hormones to be released so often in your body that they cause anxiety.
8. Running from Exercise
Whether you don’t have time for it or you find it boring, exercise is a necessary component to reducing stress and eliminating toxins. When you avoid it and live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, you are letting those toxins build up and creating a toxic environment.
9. Stressful Situations
Are you a “yes” person? Do you find it difficult to say no, even to situations you know are going to cause you to stress? This is very unhealthy for you, both mentally and physically.
The first time you say no to an unwanted situation when you know you are expected to say yes, or when you turn down an invitation for something that you want to do but know you are already overwhelmed, you experience this strange sensation. It’s a mix of regret, the concern that you disappointed someone, and this amazing exhilaration akin to your first dose of freedom.
The more you say no, the easier it gets, and the better that freedom tastes as you reduce stresses and toxicity from your life.
Ahh, but you work well under pressure! Actually, no, you don’t. You make work under pressure, but your body sends out stress signals throughout your body, increasing your adrenaline and sharpening your focus when you’re on a tight deadline. While you may get the work done, you’re increasing the stress on your body and creating an environment that is just begging for a crash.
Eliminate Toxic Behaviors for a Stress-Free Life
You don’t have to get rid of all of these behaviours and situations at once, of course. Choose one area that you know is a cause of stress and that you feel capable of tackling. Slowly, you will notice that as you reduce that behaviour, your stress reduces parallel to the task disappearing.
It becomes an exciting feeling all in itself, helping you look forward to reducing the other stresses. Endorphins and feel-good secretions are released in place of the toxic stresses, and your body starts craving less stress. Eventually, you can tackle the harder stressors, and your body starts craving less stress. Eventually, you can tackle the harder stressors, eliminating toxic behaviours and situations one at a time from your life!