Color & Control:

How stress impacts bad habits

By Parker White Everyone wishes they could kick their worst habits both big and small. It’s harder than it looks to do so, and research has shown this may be linked to how we handle stress. One study suggested that when our stress hormones rise our brains move from a more “cognitive” approach to a more “habitual” one. Meaning that at times the habits we’ve formed throughout life can become an almost innate response when we’re feeling stressed. This can make trying to quit your bad habit challenging since stress is a natural part of life. This article will look at four ways you can begin to manage your stress, and begin the process of overcoming your bad habits. Look at your needs Recognize your triggers. Are there situations that lead you to become more stressed like big crowds? Once you know you can avoid these situations when it’s possible to do so, and prepare ways to cope when you can’t. Manage your time Prioritize yourself. Make sure to find time for your interests, relaxation, exercise, or other positive outlets. This can help you feel grounded, and balanced. Making time for yourself can help you place boundaries between work, friends, and other parts of your life. This can lead to making sure you don’t feel stretched thin, and help you manage your stress levels. Use positive habits to combat negative ones One way to fight against bad habits and feel less stressed is to try to distract yourself with your more positive hobbies. This isn’t a fool proof way of getting over bad habits, and can be dangerous if you’re swapping your current bad habit for a new bad habit. But if done correctly it can take the desire to follow through on your bad habit away by distracting you with something you enjoy. Seek out help This can be professionally with a therapist or doctor, or with your own loved ones. Talking through your stress, and getting to the root of the issue can help you tackle your stress and by relation your bad habits. You can also have a family member or friend be with you along the way. They can help by gently reminding you of your goals, or cheering you on when it feels difficult. Regardless of what your bad habit is we’ve all been there. Studies have shown that in times of stress we tend to rely on the habits we’ve formed, and this can make it even more challenging to overcome them. That being said it’s not impossible, and with the four tips above you’re now one step closer to kicking your bad habits. Parker White is an Intern for Canadian Abilities Foundation. They’re studying Creative Writing and Publishing at Sheridan College.

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