Health & Injuries

5 Things You Should NOT Do to Cope with Stress, and What You Should Do Instead

by On Mar 24, 2018

It’s time to throw away these unhealthy habits and adopt more healthy, active and fun ones instead.

5 Things You Should NOT Do to Cope with Stress, and What You Should Do Instead

You come home after a long and stressful day at work or school. What is the first thing you do to de-stress? Everyone has their own preferred de-stress method. However, some of these forms of stress management may not be beneficial to your mind and body.

Here are 5 forms of unhealthy and sedentary forms of stress management that you should avoid.

1. Stress eating

Stress eating, also known as emotional eating, occurs when you consume foods which are high in carbohydrate and calories but low in nutritional levels. This is usually done in response to emotions and feelings of stress instead of
hunger. When you are stressed, you are more inclined to pick foods which are high in fat and sugar content, and consume them in large quantities within a short period of time. Although these snacks can bring you pleasure when you indulge in them, consuming them in large quantities can be harmful to your body.

5 Things You Should NOT Do to Cope with Stress, and What You Should Do Instead

Photo Credit: 123RF

Some feel relaxed and calm after smoking a cigarette, but this can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health in the long run. Research has shown that stress levels of smokers are higher due to nicotine dependency which elevates stress rather than alleviates mood. Additionally, smoking can lead to diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

3. Alcohol consumption

Are you one of those people who relies on alcohol to forget all your worries? It’s time to make a change. Depending on alcohol to de-stress is harmful to your mind and body. In the long run, alcohol can have adverse effects on your body. Overconsumption of alcohol can affect the brain, heart, liver and pancreas negatively. Additionally, it can increase the risk of diseases such as mouth, oesophagus, throat, liver and breast cancer.

Also read:  Run for Your Heart

4. Binge watching television programmes

Movies, dramas and sitcoms. We all know how great it feels to kick off your shoes and indulge in a good show after the end of a stressful day at work or school. However, not knowing how to control your screen-time can actually
make you feel even more stressed!

Researchers have found that particularly busy individuals who watch television to de-stress actually find themselves feeling guilty and more stressed out after watching television programmes. This is due to the fact that they perceive their media time as a form of procrastination.

By avoiding other important to-do items and giving in to media use, the feeling of guilt can actually prevent you from feeling relaxed after watching television, which in turn increases your anxiety levels, making you feel even more stressed than before.

5. Excessive use of computers/gaming

For all the gamers out there, did you know that excessive use of computers is considered to be largely sedentary behaviour? Studies have shown that you can feel an increase in anxiety levels when you engage in sedentary behaviour excessively, and it can lead to an addiction. Aside from that, health problems such as type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity are likely to develop when you engage in sedentary de-stress methods in excess.

5 Things You Should NOT Do to Cope with Stress, and What You Should Do Instead

Photo Credit: 123RF

If you are using any of the above methods to de-stress, why not consider a healthier and more active alternative?

Benefits of Physical Exercise

Yes, you may have already heard that exercising is a great way to relieve stress and alleviate mood. Specifically, aerobic exercise has been proven to be an effective form of stress management. Aerobic exercises are moderate-intensity exercises that increase one’s heart rate and can be sustained for prolonged periods of time without reaching the point of breathlessness. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is sufficient to release endorphins, a happy hormone, which makes you feel more calm and relaxed after the workout. Some examples of aerobic exercises include running,
dancing, walking and cardiovascular workouts.

Also read:  Long Distance Running: What Are the Potential Benefits and Risks?

Aerobic exercise possesses several benefits which are good for the mind and body. Through engaging in regular exercise, it can not only help to reduce to risk of developing anxiety and depression but also prevent the risk of contracting heart diseases such as cancer and even obesity. If you have trouble sleeping, you may also find that exercise can actually help to better regulate sleep cycles, helping to achieve a better night’s rest and improving overall sleep quality.

The thought of exercising to relieve stress may seem daunting to many but fret not, here are some possible ways which can help to spice up your exercise routine!

1. Exercise in a group or with a buddy

For some, exercising in a group may be more enjoyable and beneficial in reducing stress levels. Your nearest community centre or workplace organisation may also have running clubs which you can join in! The benefits
of group exercise include motivating and encouraging one another during the work out session, which could improve the efficiency of the workout.

5 Things You Should NOT Do to Cope with Stress, and What You Should Do Instead

Photo Credit: 123RF

2. Take part in free exercise workshops

Did you know that the Singapore Sports Hub offers free daily exercise workshops? They include an array of exercises such as Zumba, cardiovascular workouts and Bolly dance. Join in the fun, learn a new sport and make new friends at the same time!

3. Create your own workout playlist

Groove to the beat and exercise with your favourite tracks playing in the background. Music has mood-lifting abilities and releases dopamine, which is a mood-boosting hormone that is also released after exercise. Thus,  incorporating music into your exercise routine will give you a further boost to your mood. Music can also serve as a form of distraction from any possible muscle burn or stitches and has also been proven to be able to reduce fatigue. With music, it can make your 30 minutes of workout pass faster.

Also read:  Start Running As a Couple on Valentine's Day. Here's Why.

Now that you have gained a few tips on how to make your workout more fun and interesting, it’s time to start by planning an exercise schedule. Prioritise exercise by allocating time for it, and never skip a workout again! Exercise to release those tension today!

Extension is a group of 4 NTU students who are passionate about promoting exercise as a healthy, fun and active form of stress management, so as to improve the overall well-being of university students.

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