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We know that stress can make you feel unstoppable, yet it is an inescapable fact of daily life. Either way, many of us seek ways to calm ourselves down after a particularly challenging day, week, or even month. Yet, have you ever stopped to consider whether your go-to stress relievers are effective? Though everyone relaxes differently, some popular coping strategies may do more harm than good. Here are three stress relievers that science says may be making matters worse.
Watching TV or Movies
Many of us resort to a long night in front of the television when things get rough. Yet, screen time can make existing stress worse. A 2019 study found that high TV viewing levels may be linked with ineffective coping strategies or social isolation, both of which increase stress levels and even the risk of developing stress-related disorders. Instead of sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time, try light exercise, meditation, or deep breathing techniques.
“Thinking it over” seems like an innocent way to handle stress, right? Well, maybe not. If you find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about your stressors, you run the risk of ruminating, or compulsively thinking about something. Though not always bad, intense thoughts can lead to over-analysis or even obsession, which increases levels of psychological stress. Stop these harmful, invasive thoughts from taking over by listening to music or engaging in physical activity – both of which can distract your mind when it needs it most.
Venting to Others
Talking to others about your problems is a common way to cope. However, it’s important that you watch how the conversation unfolds when discussing your stressors with pals and loved ones. Often, divulging your problems can lead to one-sided conversations that turn gossipy, lead to competition, or involve third parties - like spouses and friends-of-friends who have opinions to share. Instead of falling into this trap, experts recommend talking about a problem once, then shifting your focus to possible solutions.