You’ve tried all the popular remedies for stress, but you’re still jittery and tense. Perhaps there are some things causing you stress you didn’t even know about. Here are some surprising factors to consider:
Noise: Exposing yourself to loud noises can wear on you because it activates your flight-or-flight response, triggering higher adrenaline and blood pressure, says author A.J. Jacobs in his book “Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest For Bodily Perfection.” Jacobs cites a study that compared kids at a public school who studied in quiet settings versus those who were in classrooms that heard a train go by every five minutes. Those in the quiet setting were one year ahead in reading by the sixth grade. Another study showed that people who worked at noisy jobs had two to three times the heart problems than those who worked in quiet environments. If we’re hearing loud noises all day long, our mind and body will keep activating the fight-or-flight response, which means we don’t get the much-needed downtime.
Your friends: Who you spend time with has a huge effect on you, including your mental, physical, and emotional health. In fact, Jacobs also mentions a 2007 study from The New England Journal of Medicine in which scientists concluded that gaining and losing weight can be socially contagious. A person was more than 57 percent more likely to be obese if he or she has a pal that became obese. The same researchers of the study also say that happiness can spread between friends. This may mean that your friends being stressed out can affect your own levels of stress.
Venting: You may think that dumping your problems on a friend repeatedly will make you feel better, but a study by the University of Kent in England found that people with perfectionist tendencies feel worse after venting. And it doesn’t just apply to perfectionists, says social psychologist Brad J. Bushman. Venting isn’t an effective strategy to deal with setbacks; acceptance, humor, and positive thinking are a better ways of coping.
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Mom and dad: Your ability to deal with stress can be inherited from mom and dad. A study on about 600 twins, found that being raised in the same environment had less impact on stress management than shared genes. This means that changing the environment or situation may not alleviate your stress, but it may be more effective because acknowledging and working with your predisposition can help.
Open-plan offices: It’s not exactly news that your job can raise your stress levels, but the setup of your office is also a contributing factor. Many studies have shown that open-plan offices can lead to more stress among employees. Perhaps it’s related to the fact that noise triggers the fight-or-flight response.
Surfing the web and texting before bed: Using certain forms of technology right before bed can stress you out. One study showed that people who texted and surfed within two hours of going to bed had greater stress levels than those who didn’t, says LiveScience. However, not all forms of technology engagement increases stress. Watching TV and responding to emails apparently don’t have an adverse effect.
Booze: Alcohol and stress are found to feed off each other. Drinking when you’re stressed out can prolong and increase the tension you feel from the stressor.
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