4 Unhealthy Ways To Deal With Stress

Stress is a normal part of life, and there is no way to avoid stress completely, but we can change the way we deal with it. While there is no right way to work through stress, there are negative and positive methods to deal with stress. 

Stress is a normal body reaction, a feeling of emotional and physical tension. It is often triggered when we experience something new and unexpected and it helps our body adjust to new situations. 

Stress can be positive or negative, positive stress, or eustress is the type of stress we feel when we get excited, it helps us stay motivated, work towards goals, and feel good about life. Distress, on the other hand, can make you feel overwhelmed since your resources are inadequate to deal with the stress you are experiencing. Examples of distress can be work-related stress, getting bullied, not meeting a deadline, financial problems, or facing natural disasters.

The body reacts by releasing stress hormones, making the brain more alert and increasing your pulse. This can be acute stress that goes away quickly but can also refer to the stress that lasts for a long period of time. In the short term, these reactions are good as they can help you handle the situation. However, it can be a problem when it lasts for a long time or is intense, where the body stays alert even though there is no danger.

Becoming aware of the ways you handle stress can help you change some unhealthy patterns and make healthy choices.Some unhealthy ways to deal with stress

    1. Using Alcohol- Having a glass of drink can help you relax during stress, however, it is not an ideal way to deal with stress. Alcohol is a sedative and depressant that affects the nervous system. In the long term, this could interfere with what your brain needs for good mental health. Using alcohol is not a way to deal with stress, since you won't be dealing with stress but will be avoiding it. Increasing dependence on alcohol leads to depression and anxiety worsening and could also lead to ruminating on negative things. You could also build a tolerance to the distressing effects of alcohol, making stress harder to deal with. 

    2. Smoking- People often smoke as self-medication to ease their feelings of stress. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation, and hence it makes people believe it reduces stress and anxiety. However, research shows that smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Though you may get a feeling of being calmed down, this may lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, tense muscles, and also a decrease in oxygen available to the brain and body to facilitate healthy coping skills

    3. Emotional Eating- Distress can lead to impulsive or binge eating, quickly consuming whatever is present without enjoying it. Using food as a reward, or a pick me up occasionally is not a bad idea, however, when it is a primary coping mechanism, you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle without addressing the real problem.It isn't based on the stomach but rather craving as a result of stressEmotional hunger also craves specific food, like sugary food or junk food to satisfy the need. It could lead to mindless eating, where you aren't aware of it and before you know it you have completed half the bag of chips. Unfortunately, this eating increases stress further and also lead to serious weight gain

    4. Taking it out on other people- Taking out stress on other people could be in the form of lashing out on other people, physical and emotional abuse,  saying or doing things that you wouldn't normally do, or putting others down to make yourself feel better. This could be in terms of snide remarks, abusive language, or passing comments on a person's body. While this may temporarily make us feel better, it can potentially ruin our relationship with the other person, and it also puts others in a worse state and also ourselves in a difficult spot. We may also end up feeling guilty about our behaviour and may also have to face adverse consequences as a result of our actions.


Dealing with stress is an important part of life and a crucial aspect to learn. 

Some Positive ways to deal with stress can be

  • Go for walks
  • Stretch your body, and exercise 
  • Carve out hobby time
  • Practice Yoga, Meditation, or Stress Reduction
  • Sleep enough
  • Play with your pet
  • See a counselor, coach, or therapist
  • Eat and drink to optimize your stress
  • Set realistic goals or expectations


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