7 Little Ways You're Stressing Yourself Out Unnecessarily (And How To Keep Your Cool)

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Many of us accept stress as a normal part of daily life. But it doesn't have to be — at least not as much as we make it. There are lots of ways we stress ourselves out without even realizing it, and these small habits take a big toll over time. Stress can mess with your hormones, your heart, your digestion, your immune system, and more, so it's important to make sure we're not experiencing more stress than we need to.

"We live in a society filled with high expectations for success, a plethora of daily environmental stressors, and increasing rates of mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders," Caitlin Hoff, Health & Safety Investigator at, tells Bustle. "So it is no wonder that more people report feeling stressed on a regular basis. Now, for some of these people, their jobs, their bosses, or friends and family incite this stress, but for others suffering from high levels of stress, certain habits and lifestyle decisions actually create that stress."

Here are some ways you could be making your life harder than it needs to be by stressing yourself out — and some ways to to kick these destructive habits and keep your cool.


Shallow Breathing

We think of breathing as something that comes to us naturally, but a lot of us are actually doing it wrong. "When we breathe shallowly, we are not getting enough oxygen to our cells," Global Naturopathic Physician Valerie Lane Simonsen, ND tells Bustle. "Our nervous system responds by going into the flight and fight response." To avoid this problem, Simonsen recommends putting "breathe" signs around your home and take three deep breaths every time you see one, picturing the breath traveling from your toes to your head.


Being Overly Optimistic About Timing

When we underestimate how long it'll take us to get from point A to point B, we end up constantly hurried, flustered, and late, Jillian Pransky, author of DEEP LISTENING: Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind and Open Heart Program, tells Bustle. It's better to leave yourself extra time so you can stay relaxed on your way to appointments.


Ignoring Your Stress

You might think the best way to stop feeling stressed is to stop thinking about what's stressing you out, but these thoughts usually grow if you push them away, life coach Karin Ulik tells Bustle. It's better to pause for a second and think about how you can address what's worrying you. Even if there's nothing you can do, just acknowledging and accepting that can help reduce stress.



Dividing your attention between multiple tasks makes all of these tasks more difficult, says Ulik. You may get overwhelmed just trying to address so many things at once.


Saying "Yes" All The Time

Remember, you always have the right to decline doing favors for other people. A favor is by definition something you have the right to say "no" to. "It is great to help others out and commit to things, but if it's sacrificing things that are important to you or your health, its time to say 'no,'" life coach Emily Marquis tells Bustle. "Slow down and say 'yes' only to things that are in line with your current priorities and values and that you actually have time for."


Being Inflexible

People often stress themselves out by getting stuck on certain outcomes, says Marquis. When we don't achieve the goals we want, we drive ourselves nuts trying to force it instead of going with the flow. If you've given something your all and it's still not working, it's best to just accept that and try something else.


Making Messes

Cluttered stuff and cluttered people both leave you in danger of overwhelm, says Hoff. Whether it's laundry on the floor, dishes in the sink, negative people, or FOMO-inducing social media posts, messes serve as a constant distraction. If you're feeling stressed, it's time to clear out your home and your life.

All these habits can take a huge toll on your physical and mental health, so clearing them out of your life can have a huge impact.