Stress is one of the biggest precursors to illness in the 21st century, contributing to heart issues, inflammation, obesity and addiction issues. Over time we tend to develop ways of coping with stress, masking the worst of the feelings so that we can get on with what we need to do during the day.

Unfortunately, over time, these coping mechanisms end up being a source of stress and upset themselves and can do more damage than good. Many of these habits involve ‘self-medicating’ type behaviors, such as eating, drinking, or smoking, which if pursued with zealousness over time can lead to weight gain and ill health.

Chowing down on some fast food at the end of a busy day may give you momentary pleasure. But unfortunately in the long term, it will cause you to put on weight, which in itself will erode your confidence. Blurring the edges of a tough day with too much alcohol may make you feel more relaxed at the moment, but you won’t thank it when you wake in the middle of the night with raging anxiety and palpitations.

As these are the three main ways that we adopt to help us through the stress, we have set out three alternatives to help you wean yourself off bad habits which only make you feel worse in the long term, and adopt healthier ways of dealing with stress which will actually reduce the amount of overall stress in your life.

Take a long hard look at your diet

So much of our modern diet is designed for instantaneous gratification and pleasure. Over the last few decades, millions have been spent on researching and developing the perfect combination of sugar, fat and salt to create food products that give you immediate mood lifts – the sort of immediate lift that helps to alleviate stress and give us a boost after a tough day.

This is why those sticky ribs and cheesy pizza are so much more enticing than a plate of spinach and a tin of tuna.

But you don’t need a degree in nutrition to know that a diet saturated in fats and sugar is not doing you any good. We get addicted to them because they stimulate the brain to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone, which we need to lift us during tough times – they give us emotional release.

Making the change is difficult. It will take several days, if not weeks, to overturn the habits and consequences of an unhealthy diet, but the after-effects of a healthier diet will not just manifest in your weight, but in your overall health and emotional wellbeing it.

Swap out the cigarettes

If you’re one of the 6.9 million who are still smoking in the UK, you might want to consider ditching this expensive habit once and for all. Smoking is actually more about the psychological habit, rather than the addictive nature of the nicotine – it takes less than 48 hours for the nicotine to leave your system.

Swapping cigarettes for vaping is one of the best things you can do to immediately eliminate a highly damaging and dangerous habit. And it’s cheaper.

Ditch the booze

Alcohol may feel as though it takes the edge off your stress and relaxes you at the end of the day. Unfortunately, studies have shown that alcohol actually adds to your overall stress levels, disturbs your sleep, makes you feel dehydrated, and encourages cravings for unhealthy food. During the working week swap your evening tipple for a healthier drink, for example, sparkling water with added fruit for flavor.

Just a few days without alcohol you will find that you are not only sleeping better, but you look better too, and your stress levels will have significantly reduced.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].