11 surprising reasons you're stressed out

Even if they’re not as traumatic as the death of a loved one or coping with a chronically ill child, these surprising stressors could be turning you into a ball of anxiety. 

PHotos: ING Image
PHotos: ING Image
27 Jul 2015

PHotos: ING Image

Money, work, and sleep deprivation are the top leading causes of stress. They’re the big ones that most of us know about, but there are also hidden negative sources that can take a toll on our mood and wellbeing. Even if they’re not as traumatic as the death of a loved one or coping with a chronically ill child, these surprising stressors could be turning you into a ball of anxiety.

 

1. Your relationship.
1. Your relationship.
27 Jul 2015

1. Your relationship.

Your significant other is probably a main source of comfort and encouragement, but they’re also the ones who can get under your skin with annoying tendencies such as leaving dirty laundry on the floor, or with bigger issues like jealousy and opposing parenting philosophies and spending habits. Even if you’re not married or living together, because you’re emotionally invested in this person, any conflict with them affects you on a greater level – especially if it involves passive aggressiveness or the dreaded silent treatment. 

Regardless of who’s right and wrong, being in a fight sucks. Maybe it’s time to let go of your pride and compromise. Part of being kind is acknowledging all the things you love about your partner instead of picking at their faults.

 

2. Your obsession with healthy living.
2. Your obsession with healthy living.
27 Jul 2015

2. Your obsession with healthy living.

Poor health leads to stress, but did you know that being overly health conscious comes with negative side effects as well? That’s why you might feel cranky and tired when you’re on a strict diet or cleanse. And while exercise has been shown to improve the mood, there’s such a thing as taking working out to the extreme. It’s good to have discipline, but bear in mind that life should be enjoyed. If your fixation on healthy living is making you miss out on activities and dinners with friends, consider scaling back a little. 

3. Retail “therapy.”
3. Retail “therapy.”
27 Jul 2015

3. Retail “therapy.”

Nothing like a little retail therapy to lift your spirits, right? Not so. Studies show that rather than relieving tension, compulsive shopping and materialism could actually exacerbate or produce even greater stress. A new pair of shoes isn’t going to resolve your fears. Think about that the next time you’re itching to take your credit card for a spin. 

 

4. Your high expectations.
4. Your high expectations.
27 Jul 2015

4. Your high expectations.

Ambitious people are known to have high expectations, and they have a knack for motivating their peers to perform up to their standards. But be careful of burning out. Your unyielding demand for perfection can be draining, especially when you refuse to turn in anything until it’s just right (procrastination leads to more stress). Reduce anxiety by setting realistic goals and accepting that you can’t be in control of everything. Being flexible is not the same as settling for less. Part of developing resilience entails being able to roll with the punches. 

5. Clutter.
5. Clutter.
27 Jul 2015

5. Clutter.

Your office desk is littered with nearly-empty lotion bottles, your pencil holder is exploding with a gazillion pens when you only use three, and you’ve got exactly two cardigans, a shawl, and a blazer thrown over the back of your chair. Then, when you enter your home you’re immediately greeted by a mess of high heels toppled over like dominoes on the floor. Next in your line of sight is the avalanche of catalogs and mail. But you can achieve mental freedom from all this! Clear the clutter, clear your brain. You’ll breathe better immediately.

 

6. Indecisiveness.
6. Indecisiveness.
27 Jul 2015

6. Indecisiveness.

We face tons of micro-decisions every day. If you’re the kind of person who spends half an hour deciding between two pasta sauces or fruit jams, you’re adding undue stress. Stop overthinking it. You may be so intent on making the best choice every time that you take forever to take action. Sometimes simply choosing what’s adequate instead of what’s optimal is good enough.

Not all decisions carry the same weight. Consider which ones are worth mulling over. If something really isn’t that consequential, just make a call and move on. You’ll be less stressed and more productive. 

7. Your domestic helper.
7. Your domestic helper.
27 Jul 2015

7. Your domestic helper.

Our nannies and helpers are meant to make our home lives easier, but it takes a while before they can fully integrate. And because they’re actually living with us, things can get personal easily. Many mothers secretly feel jealous of the nanny’s bond with their child. Some employers might suspect that their helper is shirking responsibilities when they’re not around. As with any relationship, trust has to be earned and takes time to build. If the relationship reaches a point of contention, either find a resolution or a new maid. A truly good helper would want to simplify your life, not make you unhappy.    

8. Getting swept up in other people’s problems.
8. Getting swept up in other people’s problems.
27 Jul 2015

8. Getting swept up in other people’s problems.

Secondhand stress is real. Your sister’s divorce or your best friend’s depression could dampen your spirits, even if your own life is smooth sailing. If you have a lot of empathy, merely lending ear to some shopkeeper’s plight or overhearing the gate guard’s heated phone call with his wife could affect you because you’re picking up on their loud volume, quickened breathing and jarring words. There are countless tragedies in the world – you don’t have to shoulder all of them. That means distancing yourself from that one burdensome friend who only calls you up to rant.

 

9. Low-grade challenges.
9. Low-grade challenges.
27 Jul 2015

9. Low-grade challenges.

The littlest things can evoke boiling-point fury, whether it’s a slow waiter who keeps forgetting to fill your glass, the elevator light that’s been blinking for two days, or the woman in front of you holding up the supermarket queue because she wants to grab one more item. Annoying, low-grade challenges will come up again and again in life. Just keep on truckin.’  

10. What you eat.
10. What you eat.
27 Jul 2015

10. What you eat.

You might think that comfort food can make you feel better when you’re having a tough day. It’s meant to “comfort” after all. But study shows that although we may desire rewarding food when we’re stressed, we don’t actually enjoy them more. That ice cream sundae won’t taste any better when you’re under deadline than when you’re not.   

Caffeine and sugar are stimulants that can raise your adrenaline and stress hormones. A sugar toast or cup of joe can give you that instant hit you crave, but it’s usually followed by a crash. A little indulgence is okay; too much could disrupt digestion and sleep, making you more irritable than before.   

11. Social media and Instagram-envy.
11. Social media and Instagram-envy.
27 Jul 2015

11. Social media and Instagram-envy.

So, your ex has moved on. His new relationship is Facebook-official. You feel like crap after you stalk his love interest, and it definitely doesn’t help your self-esteem when your recently updated profile pic has garnered only a few likes. Facebook could make us feel less satisfied with our lives, studies find. 

If you’re experiencing Instagram-envy from perusing all those picture-perfect snapshots of people who lead infinitely more adventurous lives, who have the world’s most beautiful, lit-from-within peaches and hardboiled eggs for breakfast, who have time to read a magazine in their silk kimono and drink coffee IN BED WITH A BABY with nary a spill in sight, here’s the good news: Nobody’s life is that perfect. Don’t stress – live your own and stop comparing. 

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