Little Things You're Doing Every Day That Are Stressing You Out

There is a saying that goes, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." While I whole-heartedly believe this is a true statement, I also believe that each and every day, there are things we are doing to ourselves that add stress to our lives or make the day-to-day just that much more challenging.

More often than not, we don't even realize we're doing these things. When we do realize they're happening, we may not actually know the steps to take in order to turn things around, or that we have a choice to do so. So what are these things that are adding to stress bucket? I asked the experts, so let's dive in and hear what they had to say.

You're not getting enough sleep

I think it's safe to say this is a common issue among the majority of the population. We're running from one thing to the next, driving from dance class to football practice, getting to the office early and staying late, and then staying up late at night because after all of that, it's the only time that truly feels like it's our own. But those late nights are eating into our much-needed and truly deserved sleep time.

Leighann Marquiss, a certified life coach, works with her clients on focusing on their sleep first and foremost. "Sleep deprivation is used as a type of psychological warfare for a reason," she said. "When we're tired, we're more likely to be stressed and irritable, and less likely to think rationally and make good decisions."

How do we start prioritizing our sleep? Marquiss encourages her clients to shut off the computer or television. There are apps, like Freedom, which can be used to block certain websites or even the entire internet for up to eight hours. While they are often used to increase productivity, if you find yourself losing sleep because you're busy scrolling through Facebook or watching everyone's Instagram stories while you lay in bed, this might be for you.

You're not taking any time for yourself

Similar to not getting enough sleep, we're often not giving ourselves enough downtime each day. NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson talks about the need to find the balance between caring for others, working our full time jobs, and taking the time to care for ourselves. She suggests having "a morning routine where you have time to yourself."

This will obviously look a bit different for each of us, but Hershenson recommends, "going to the gym, having your daily coffee while reading the newspaper, or stretching for ten minutes. Doing something for yourself every day is crucial to mental stress."

For me this means completing a ten-minute meditation twice a day. I complete the first after rolling out of bed in the morning before my coffee or morning workout, and the second right before lunch. I shut my office door at work, turn off the lights, and listen to soothing nature sounds while I meditate. Regardless of how my day may be going at the time, this is my opportunity to reset and focus on what I need to get through the rest of the day.

You're always running late

How many of us find ourselves rushing through our days only to get to the end and wish we had a few more hours to get one more thing done? The truth is that there are only 24 hours in a day and while we can spend our lives wishing we had a few more, that's just not going to happen so it's time we accept it and "build a bigger buffer into our day," said Marquiss.

The truth is that in this world of never ending to-do lists, we're trying to accomplish too many things in our small timeframes while also trying to do so with an over-worked and under-rested body and mind. We are constantly underestimating how long it will take to accomplish the task at hand so it's time to start allowing the proper time to complete the job.

Marquiss suggests we begin by giving ourselves an extra ten minutes by "saying no to pushing snooze one last time, doing one more project, or catching up on email."

You're stuck in the cycle of dieting and poor body image

I hate to admit it but it wasn't until Lu Uhrich, a certified eating psychology coach pointed it out to me, but this cycle of negative body image and dieting is a major stressor that is happening in our society every single day, and more often than not, we're joining along in the damaging behavior and mentality.

"Negative body image is stressful in and of itself. Add controlling measures meant to manipulate body shape and size, such as dieting and over-exercise and your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive," said Uhrich. "Cortisol and insulin spike, hormones deregulate, often leading to metabolic damage and further body shame." Talk about chaos!

This poor self image is so common, how can we start to break the cycle? Personally, I believe it starts with our self-talk. When I find myself leaning towards a hateful comment about my body, I make sure to point out another thing that I love about my body. It's also important to pay attention to the people we follow on social media. If someone you follow triggers poor self-talk or a negative view of your own body, it's time to unfollow them!

You're constantly comparing yourself to others

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and if you've ever found yourself lost in the sea of comparison then you understand just how true that statement can be. Especially during these times when so much of our lives are wrapped in the world of social media, it's so easy to find ourselves lost in that comparison trap.

Maybe we're single and see friends getting married or engaged left and right, then find ourselves wondering what's wrong with us. Or we see others living these glamorous and abundant looking lives while we find ourselves struggling to pay rent and think we'll never be good enough for that life. Those are only two examples and I could go on about perfect new jobs and dream homes, but I think you get the point of just how damaging and stressful this thought process can be.

Rebecca Nichols, a licensed clinical professional counselor, suggests shifting our focus from one of comparison to one of gratitude. "Gratitude has been shown time and time again to be correlated with happiness and feeling more satisfied with life," she said.

You're allowing toxic people in your life

"People often think of conflict as stressful, so instead of setting boundaries with people who stress us out or having hard conversations, we learn to 'deal with them,'" said Nichols. This isn't doing your stress level any favors.

Motivational and self-help speaker Jim Rohn famously said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with," and if you've ever found yourself surrounded by a Negative Nancy or two, then you surely realize just how easy it is to fall down the well of negativity right along with them. While I am a big proponent of removing negativity from my life, and yes, sometimes that does mean people, it's not always that easy, especially if these people happen to be family or close and long-time friends.

Nichols told me that, "setting these limits is important and causes less stress. It also serves to reduce the anxiety that these up and down relationships cause."

You don't like your job

If you have ever found yourself in a dead end, thankless, or soul-crushing job, then you understand the stress that comes along with it. Licensed Psychologist Maelisa Hall told me, "Research consistently shows that when we don't like our work, we're less productive, less creative, and more prone to calling out sick."

Since we all have bills to pay, what are we supposed to do? Hall said, "if your job is consistently making you feel sad, anxious, angry, and if your friends and family notice the impact, it's time to start searching."

If you're not quite ready to look for a new job or having trouble finding that new career that lights you up, it's important to remember your goals and values and feel gratitude for the job that you do have. Remember that while your current job may have its flaws, it's allowing you to pay the bills while you work toward the bigger picture and the dream that is waiting for you.

You're trying to multitask all the time

I am so guilty of trying to multitask with every minute and hour of my day, it is truly ridiculous and quite honestly concerning at times. Morgan Sheets, a certified wellness coach, calls this "one of the biggest silent energy drains."

We find ourselves jumping from tab to tab on our computers, watching a movie while checking email and social media on our phones, only taking the time to read when we're walking on the treadmill, or what I may be most embarrassed to admit, mostly only talking to friends and family on the phone while driving (hands free, of course).

"We can only focus our awareness on one place at a time," said Sheets. "Bouncing rapidly from thing to thing is mentally and physically causing stress." When we're not able to fully focus all of our attention on any one thing, whether that be a task for work, the friend needing our advice on a situation, or just relaxing during the movie, our well-being suffers.

You're constantly in a state of worry

As someone who has personally suffered from anxiety for many years, I know the toll that constantly worrying can take on my mind, body, and even my relationships. There is this belief in the spiritual and manifestation community that what you think about, you bring about. Whether this is worrying about what our editors are going to think about our latest article, the conversation we want to have with our boss about a much deserved raise, or a conversation with the person we're dating about where this relationship is going, worrying about the problem isn't going to get you anywhere.

"This can be fixed by bringing our focus to what we appreciate in each moment, what is going right," said Sheets. "Focusing on solutions instead of problems and asking ourselves to come up with at least as many positive outcomes to our worries as we do reasons for things to go wrong."

No, I can't guarantee that my editors are going to love my next article or that my boss is going to immediately agree to that raise, but changing my mindset better prepares me for the proper action to take if things don't go my way. I find I can choose my words and actions from a clearer space than if I had spent the day in that stressful state.

The common themes

Did you catch the common themes that came up time and time again from the various psychologists, life coaches, and counselors? In case you missed it, it was rest and gratitude.

Everything in life ties together and builds upon each other, so ensuring that we are well rested puts us in a better place to take on whatever the day throws our way; gratitude keeps us humble and seeing the good that each day and opportunity brings. If you struggle with taking time to be thankful each day, I highly suggest a gratitude journaling practice. I personally started this over a year ago and it has transformed my life. Before going to bed each night, I pull out my journal and write down five things I am thankful for that day, everything from being able to make a 45 minute yoga practice at my favorite hot yoga studio, to being able to treat myself to a latte, to a comforting conversation with a friend.

Even if gratitude journaling isn't quite your thing, if any of these everyday stressors leave you saying, "that's me," then I highly encourage you to take the necessary action to live a happier, healthier and more rested life, whatever those steps might be.