Health problems, even minor ones, can interfere with or even overshadow other aspects of your life. Even relatively minor health issues such as aches, pains, lethargy, and indigestion take a toll on your happiness and stress levels. One way to improve your ability to cope with stress and feel better is to make a commitment to healthier habits.
Poor health habits can add stress to your life and also play a role in how well you are able to cope with stress. The stress that comes from poor health is significant. Health challenges also affect other areas of your life. Health problems can make daily tasks more challenging, create financial stress, and even jeopardize your ability to earn a living.
Stress itself can exacerbate health issues from the common cold to more serious conditions and diseases,1 so maintaining healthy habits can pay off in the long run.
Here are a few healthy habits that carry a big impact:
Eat a Healthy Diet for the Right Reasons
Rather than eating right solely for the promise of looking better in your jeans, you should also make a commitment to eating foods that will boost your energy levels and keep your system running smoothly. This is because what you eat can not only impact your short-term and long-term health, it can affect your stress levels.2
It’s much harder to cope with stress if you are hungry or malnourished. Hunger can make you more emotionally reactive to stressors, leaving you irritable or even angry in the face of minor daily annoyances. Watching what you eat can be a stress management tool as well as a health preserver.
Another reason it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy diet is that your diet can have an effect on your mood.3 While the effects of an unhealthy diet are cumulative and become more apparent in the long-term, you are also less likely to feel well in the short-term if you are eating a diet heavy on sugar-laden, fatty, or nutritionally empty foods.
Some of the more immediate effects poor diet include feeling:
Eating well has important long-term consequences, but it may also help you feel more energetic and optimistic in the short-term as well.4
If you remind yourself that what you eat now will affect how you feel in the coming hours, it may be easier to stick to a healthy diet.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep can have a serious impact on your overall health and well-being. Make a commitment to get enough sleep at night. If you haven’t gotten adequate sleep, you may be less productive, less mentally sharp, and otherwise more prone to the effects of stress.5
Some good habits that can help:
- Try to get a full eight hours of sleep each night
- Avoid caffeine after 2 pm
- Avoid eating foods in the evening that might disrupt your sleep
- Go to bed at the same time each night; wake up at the same time each morning
- Create a restful sleep environment; make sure your bed is comfortable and keep the room at an optimal temperature for sleeping (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Adopt a calming technique such as meditation to help yourself relax each night before bed
You may be surprised by how much less stressed you feel when you’re not tired if this is an issue for you right now. Following good strategies can help if you have trouble getting quality sleep when stressed. Not only will you sleep better, but you’ll feel better all day.
Find a Fitness Habit That Works for You
We’ve all heard the advice to eat right and exercise, but it can be difficult to fit in workouts around a busy schedule, particularly when you’re feeling exhausted from stress. One effective strategy for making fitness a regular part of your life is to build an exercise habit around your other habits—either attach a workout to your morning routine, your lunchtime habits, or make it a regular part of your evening—you get the idea.6
If you make a morning jog part of your getting-ready-for-work routine, for example, it is much more likely to happen than if you wait until you feel like jogging and happen to have a free half-hour, especially if you lead a busy life like most of us and are tired at the end of the day.
Another important way to make exercise easier is to choose an activity that you actually enjoy. Some examples include walking while listening to an audiobook or attending a class at your gym where good music drives up your energy level. Finding an activity that you enjoy means that you are more likely to stick with it.
Find a form of exercise that you’d like to do and then find a time when you can make it work with your schedule.
Watch What You Put Into Your Body
Avoid putting unhealthy substances into your body; nicotine, excess alcohol, and even excessive caffeine can take a toll on your health in the long run, but also make you feel lousy overall in your day-to-day life.
In fact, it helps if you can avoid allowing toxic thinking patterns from exacerbating your stress levels as well.7 Find healthier ways to manage stress, and you’ll enjoy double health and stress management benefits.
A Word From Verywell
These are three important ways to take care of your body that you may not naturally think of as stress relievers. If you set goals to make these ideas a reality in your life, not only will you feel the difference immediately, but you will also see results in multiple areas of your life in the coming weeks and months. Few habits come without effort, but these three can make a significant impact on your life, and are well worth the effort.