Battling stress on your own can be lonely and challenging. You might not know where to start and how to effectively make your life more relaxing. There is even a possibility that you are making your stress worse! Don’t despair: we are here to help you out. Look into these 10 common mistakes people make and find out how you can improve the way you cope with stress.

Mistakes Battling Stress

1. Not taking enough rest

Did you know that chronic stress literally can shrink your brain [1]? Taking enough rest is crucial to recovering from chronic stress. Going on and on without taking breaks to restore is a recipe for disaster. Give yourself some off time for self-care on a regular basis.

2. Eating the wrong foods

Stress causes inflammation and destroys the structure of your intestinal barrier resulting in leaky gut. Clean up your diet to minimize food-induced inflammation. When you feel stressed, it is best to avoid alcohol and late nights of binge-drinking. Avoid other foods that can cause inflammation like sugar, refined carbohydrates, and dairy [2].

3. Not using routines

Going through your day without structure or a plan will not benefit you. If you aren’t the planning kind of type, you won’t like what I am about to tell you: start incorporating routines in your life.

Maybe you are not even aware of it, but you possibly already use routines for your skin-care, workouts or when you are at work. Routines help you develop new habits, make it easier to manage anxiety and help you with stress [3].

A routine can give you peace of mind. You’ll feel at ease, prepared and in control, ready to tackle all things that come your way.

4. Not having (enough) compassion for yourself

We all make mistakes or mess up. Blaming yourself for your mistakes can cause even more stress. People who are high in self-compassion are kind to themselves when they experience negative life events [4].

Self-compassion may be a valuable coping resource when people experience negative life events. People who are self-compassionate are less likely to catastrophize negative situations, experience anxiety following a stressor, and avoid challenging tasks for fear of failure. Research suggests that self-compassion can play an important role in the coping process. – [5]

Be kind to yourself and accept that we all make mistakes and have adversities in life.

Our favorite book about self-compassion is written by the American psychologist Kristin Neff. If you’d like to learn more about how self-compassion can help you, we highly recommend reading this book.

5. Assuming you have to do everything yourself

Not asking for help is strongly tied to not having enough compassion for yourself. It’s okay to admit you can’t do everything yourself. Asking for help isn’t a failure. Asking for, receiving and giving support is part of being human.

Studies show that people underestimate how willing people are to help them [6]. You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you if you ask them.

6. Not saying ‘no’

When you are trying to recover from chronic stress, me-time is super valuable! Learning to say ‘no’ more often can help you conquer stress and feel more relaxed.

If you’re worried you’ll let down others when you say ‘no,’ remember that you can’t be there for others when you don’t have time to care for yourself. Being rested will put you in the right place to help others and be the best version of yourself.

Don't Set Yourself On Fire

7. Not forming ‘pleasure habits’

Doing things for fun or having hobbies are the first things that suffer when we are busy. It’s okay and even necessary to do things for entertainment and fun.

One study has even shown that actively seeking pleasure in your daily routine can make you more resilient to stress [7]. Like Mithu Storoni explains in her book Stress Proof: you have a ‘pleasure piggy bank’. Try putting in as many pleasure coins as you possibly can, every day.  This way you’ll build up stress resilience, no matter how stressful life is.

8. Working out too much

We all know that working out helps to deal with stress. But remember how I told you about inflammation weakening your intestinal barrier? Heavy exercise regimens, unfortunately, do the same, especially if you exercise in the heat. Give your body time to recover and exercise in moderation.

9. Trying too many different things at once

You tried dozens of things to find a way to manage your stress and unwind. Nothing really stuck. You tried some yoga, a little bit of meditation and some walking. While you enjoyed these activities, you still can’t seem to relax. Trying different things to see what suits you is a good thing to do, but to create a new habit it is best to be consistent.

10. Not having a plan

The Internet offers dazzling amounts of information about ways to relax. Maybe that is what caused you to make mistake number 9 on this list. Want to get rid of your stress in an effective way? Set yourself up for success by using a plan to battle stress.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

When you don’t have a plan, you keep spinning around in circles, getting demotivated by the lack of results.

If you want to see results, you need a plan.

This saves you valuable time, brings structure to your life and encourages you to continue your journey to a more relaxed lifestyle.

Do you have some tips yourself? Share them in the comments.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Share it!