There are many unhealthy behaviors that can affect our overall health, with the most common ones being overeating or poor diet, lack of physical activity, drinking alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep, and poor stress management. Nutrition Expert Staci Gulbin gives us the insight we need to overcome them, one step at a time.
Our behaviors can act as pillars of our overall health and well-being. When one unhealthy behavior presents itself, it can start to affect other aspects of our health. For example, if we do not get adequate sleep, we may be more irritable or easily stressed which may cause emotional overeating, smoking, or drinking alcohol.
Stress can be a common underlying factor of our unhealthy behaviors, and may seem like a part of life that cannot be resolved. However, it is not the stress itself, but more so our response to the stressor that we can limit the damage done to our bodies and minds. Self-stigma, low self-esteem, anger outbursts, social isolation, and emotional eating are just a few of our unhealthy responses to stress.
While the reasons that we engage in such behaviors may not be crystal clear, it is when we examine our behaviors as they happen, and think about why we are doing things that will help us understand how our unhealthy behaviors have evolved. This will help identify the reasons behind them, so we can begin replacing it with healthier habits that lead to a more positive mindset.
Use the following 5 steps to help you better manage your stress, and in turn help you build a healthier life for yourself:
1. LOOK AT FAILURE DIFFERENTLY
Failure is often seen as a negative thing. However, it is in those times of failure that we learn the most about what we need to do next time to be more successful. We are all human and make mistakes, so never be ashamed or embarrassed if you do not succeed at something you try at. You cannot truly fail unless you stop trying.
2. REACT BEFORE ACTING OUT
When you encounter a stressful situation, take a time-out for a few deep breaths and separate yourself (if you can) from the stressful situation. Think about what you can do to either help resolve the situation in a healthy manner, to de-escalate the situation. If it is something that is out of your control, find a way to prevent it from affecting your overall well-being.
3. FIND WAYS TO DECOMPRESS EVERY DAY
There are many ways to help relieve stress each day. No matter how busy your schedule, you should make time to decompress, or have “me-time” for at least 15 minutes a day. Whether you enjoy walking or running, taking a yoga or meditation class, praying, reading a book, watching a movie, or taking a relaxing bubble bath, there are many healthy ways to reboot after experiencing stress. It is very important to decompress to not only feel better mentally and emotionally, but to physically decrease heart rate and blood pressure, which could have long-term effects on your overall health.
4. LOOK AT EACH OBSTACLE AS A WAY TO LEARN AND GROW STRONGER
It is through your most difficult moments in life that you grow as a person. Stressful situations can reveal your strengths that you may not have realized you had, or it can reveal your weaknesses that can now be something you can actively work to improve.
5. NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
There is always a helping hand to assist you in dealing with your stress, if you just ask. Whether it be a friend, family member, pastor, teacher, counselor, or healthcare provider, there is always someone to talk to if you just let them know you need them. However, do not feel ashamed of asking for help because none of us go through life without getting assistance from others. And remember, do not assume that others know you need help. Be open about how you feel, and others will be better able to help you.
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Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN is a Portland-based Registered Dietitian with a licensed private practice in Oregon and Maryland. Staci focuses on helping others be confident in the choices they make and to value themselves enough to make healthier decisions, even in moments where family and work life can be overwhelming.