Don’t we all find ways to reduce stress? It’s because we all have stress in our lives, whether at home or at work.
I know you try hard not to let stress affect you, and would like to keep it at bay forever. However, it’s not possible always.
One theory suggests that you get stressed because you allow yourself to be under that negative condition, but you always have a choice – don’t you?
Positivity and optimism help counter, control, and conquer stressful situations. After all, mental and emotional stresses depend on your state of mind.
If you’ve a strong and stable mind, and positive strategies to support you, then you might save yourself from getting affected by stress.
But at times, in spite of being upbeat and positive, you still get stressed.
In that case, you should remember that not all stress is bad. Some level of stress is sometimes necessary to make you move, and helps you to get the work done.
However, you do need to find a way to reduce stress if it goes beyond the required level.
If you try to lessen the stress in your lives with the bad ways, you get into more trouble. You risk forming bad habits and even get addicted, which makes matters worse.
All this might harm you directly or indirectly.
You might find the good and right ways of coping and dealing with stress everywhere, but here I’d like to mention some bad ways to reduce stress.
This is so that you are aware of them, can recognize them, and know that you should avoid them.
“Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle.” ~ Bill Phillips
6 Bad Ways to Reduce Stress
Most of you unknowingly adopt the wrong ways to lower the stress levels. Some of these are even your natural coping mechanisms, if you’re pessimistic in your attitude.
Also known as self-injury and self-mutilation, self-harm is a negative way of lessening deep stress or releasing emotional pain.
You feel better temporarily after harming yourself, but then the stress, along with more painful feelings, returns.
You’re then caught in a vicious cycle and keep hurting yourself – the behavior becomes addictive.
Some of the things people do in self-harm are banging their head, hitting themselves, cutting or burning their skin, not letting the wounds heal, swallowing toxic substances, and other weird things.
Did you know that even biting nails, peeling off your skin, clipping your nails with your teeth or fingers, are all lower forms of self-mutilation?
You might know them as signs of anxiety or nervousness, and there could be some other reasons too, but mostly you use these ways to beat the stress.
Now, most of you resort to some of these ways – don’t you? I confess that I sometimes bite my nails whenever I’m under pressure or stress. What about you?
Though even self-hitting and other forms of self-harm are generally non-suicidal acts, and the person performs them in secrecy, some of these weird ways can be harmful and fatal.
Are you or your known ones struggling with the problem of self-harm? If so, then you can find more helpful information in this online guide.
Self harm yields more pain than gain, and increases the stress levels instead of decreasing them. Self harm is a bad way to reduce stress that you should never ever think of resorting to.
As you can make out from the name – it is some sort of a maniac behavior. However, the people suffering from this impulse control disorder are normal people.
Although trichotrichalmania is considered to be a part of the ways of self-harm, I’m mentioning it separately as it is something that’s very visually apparent.
In fact, one of my relative suffered from trichotrichalmania and that is how I got to know more about this odd behavior.
In this disorder, people tend to have a compulsive urge to pull out their own hair mostly due to stress or depression.
I noticed my relative suddenly becoming bald, and her mother tried all kinds of treatment to restore what was diagnosed as hair fall or scalp infection.
But in reality, she was pulling out her own hair whenever she was alone, and she was not even conscious of what she was doing.
For her, it was a natural reaction and urge, and maybe that’s why she never gave much thought to it.
The doctor my relative went to showed them photographs of people suffering from trichotillomania, and they were unbelievable! We managed to see them too.
People pluck out their complete eyebrows and eyelashes, and even hair from their arms! This is their sub-conscious way to reduce stress that eventually turns into a disorder.
If you observe your loved ones getting bald and if the hair growth is uneven, it is likely that the person is pulling the hair to seek interim relief from stress.
Resorting to alcohol is a common way to reduce stress. When you’re under the influence of alcohol, there are chemical changes in your brain that give you temporary relief from stress.
The brain actually sends signals to the body to slow down. Apart from this, drinking alcohol also increases the levels of dopamine, a hormone which is responsible for creating a pleasant feeling.
It is followed with a temporary feeling of relaxation and euphoria due to increase in the level of endorphins and serotonin, the hormones that relieve pain and generate a good feeling in the brain.
However, drinking excessive alcohol for long term leads to addiction, problems in life and relations, and severe irreparable damage to the body organs.
A stage comes when even after drinking a lot you’re not able to stimulate the relaxation hormones, however, you become so dependent on alcohol that you find it hard to part with.
You fall in the trap of addiction, and increase the stress levels instead of reducing them.
Drink in moderation. Resorting to alcohol as a stress relief measure is risking your life. Try to avoid it.
Now, my inclusion of caffeine as a bad way to reduce stress would come as a surprise to many. Why? Because like myself, I know many of you love your coffee – don’t you?
Do you know that caffeine is a regular drug?
It stimulates the central nervous system, improves concentration, increases wakefulness, and lessens stress and fatigue, which is good and helpful at times.
However, generally drinking more than three cups of coffee for long term causes harmful and unpleasant effects to your body. It may range from insomnia, irritability, upset stomach, and muscle tremors.
No wonder alcohol, caffeine, and even drugs and cigarettes help relieve stress to an extent but their effect vanishes once the person stops drinking, taking drugs, or smoking.
Moreover, the person becomes addictive to these ways to reduce stress, and the substance abuse starts harming the body gradually behind the scenes.
Have caffeine, but within limits. Don’t use it as a stress buster because if you do so, you might unknowingly call hordes of other problems.
5. Compulsive spending & emotional eating
It is a good practice to care for yourself, and at times even pamper yourself to boost your spirits, raise your self-esteem levels and reduce the stress levels.
You can do so by shopping and gifting yourself once in a while, or splurging on high fat and high calorie food like ice-cream and junk food.
But like in most of the other cases, everything is good until it is in moderation. Things turn bad if they’re done in excess and too often.
Emotionally troubled people, in an effort to try to find the way to reduce stress, begin to compulsively buy things for themselves to feel good.
They go on a shopping spree and even spend their money on things that they don’t need. Some even go to the extent of taking loans for this purpose, and eventually self-inflict financial stress in the long run.
With each purchase there’s an increase in the dopamine levels – the brain’s rewarding chemical. And when its effect vanishes then you try to repeat things to maintain your euphoric mood.
Similar thing happens with emotional eating.
Initially, eating acts as a good coping mechanism for stress, but if this way to reduce stress is resorted to every time, then there are negative health implications like excessive weight gain etc.
More so, if your diet comprises of junk food – while indulging in emotional eating, then it may lead to nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, and further cause stress to your body and mind.
Whenever you’re stressed, be on guard of overspending, and be aware of what and how much you eat. Don’t let these means become your regular ways to reduce stress.
It is a fact that for many people, mostly men, pornography is also a way to reduce stress.
This is because sexual stimulation lowers the cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and releases more of dopamine, the rewarding brain chemical.
Since porn is easily accessible, both men and women use it more often to fantasize and escape the reality of life.
However, with prolonged exposure it becomes an obsession, and porn addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome.
Sex is not always the reason for porn addiction because for many it is a way to reduce stress and feel better.
Long-term porn addiction has the risk of endangering your relationship with your spouse. Relationships loose the trust and intimacy, and the partner feels disconnected.
Researches also indicate that people who engage in habitual porn suffer from a low grade depression, low self-esteem, and poor self-image in terms of masculinity. However, there are conflicting views on this issue.
Porn addiction that starts off as a simple way to reduce stress sometimes grows to derange the personalities of men and make them commit heinous crimes like rape, especially if they’re addicted to violent pornography.
“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” ~ Hans Selye
Resorting to tranquilizers is not a good way to deal with stress either. It’s more addictive than alcohol and should not be used to cure anxiety or depression caused by stress for a long period.
These are all unhealthy means of seeking stress relief as either they don’t act on the root problem and have a temporary effect, or have a negative impact on your health.
The wrong ways of reducing stress can make you develop bad habits, live an imbalanced lifestyle, fill you with guilt, and further deteriorate your self-image and self-respect.
Except for self harm and trichotrichalmania, you may indulge in any of the ways to reduce stress mentioned in this post, but make sure you remain within limits and don’t get addicted. The choice is always in your hand.
“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.” ~ Richard Carlson
Over to you –
Have you ever faced any wrong ways to cope with stress? Which were they and what did you do to avoid them? Do add more bad ways to reduce stress that need to be avoided, if you know of any – in the comment below.
Posted on: June 7th, 2013
Last Updated on: January 4th, 2014