When was the last time you stayed up way too late, because you were using your phone? Or when you gave in to a craving because you’d been stressed at work?

Well, if you’re like most people, these scenarios might sound familiar — because they happen to all of us. And these “bad habits” all stem from one thing:

Stress.

It’s something we all experience from time to time. — and after a while, it can lead to things like obesity, blood pressure issues, and tense, sore muscles.1,2

Not to mention, stress always seems to contribute to bad habits, like staying up late or indulging in “junk food.” Often, these habits are a result of trying to alleviate the stress. But in the end, they aren’t helping at all.

Stress and Cravings | Activated YouIt’s something experts call “The Cycle of Stress.”

When you’re stressed out, you might start craving junk food to comfort yourself.

That junk food isn’t really good for your body, but it makes you feel better in the short term… but leads to more stress in the long run, when you worry about your health.

And the cycle repeats.

Well, if that sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. These days, Americans are more stressed than ever, according to research from the American Psychological Association.3

But there’s something you can do to beat the stress (and the bad habits it invites) — something you can do starting TODAY. It’s an important technique to learn, because stress can have some pretty serious effects on your health:

Mindfulness.

It’s a way to “be aware” of your feelings or urges — and accept them for what they are. In fact, studies show that practicing mindfulness is an effective way to cope with stress and its effects.4

So… how exactly do you practice mindfulness?

Well, it’s a lot easier than you may think. Here’s what you do:

When you get a craving for french fries, or the urge to look at one more email… don’t give in. Instead, take a moment and think about it.

What is the craving or urge? Where is it coming from?

You can say to yourself: “I have a craving for french fries. It’s because I’ve been feeling stressed, and french fries are a comfort food for me.

Stress and Cravings | Activated YouThat’s all it takes to practice the mindfulness technique. Just be aware of the feeling before choosing to act on it.

When you realize why a craving or urge hits, you may find it goes away on its own. And if it doesn’t go away on its own, you’ll know what’s causing it, and you’ll be more prepared to fight back.

You’ll find it makes a world of difference in your stress level — and it might even help you build better, healthier habits in no time.


Sources
1. Dallman M. Stress-induced obesity and the emotional nervous system. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2010;21(3):159-165. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2009.10.004.
2. Stress Effects on the Body. American Psychological Association 2017. Available at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx. Accessed August 31, 2017.
3. Stress In America: Coping With Change. American Psychological Association; 2017. Available at: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.PDF. Accessed August 31, 2017.
4. Grossman P, Niemann L, Schmidt S, Walach H. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2004;57(1):35-43. doi:10.1016/s0022-3999(03)00573-7.