5 Unhealthy Stress-Induced Habits to Avoid - And What To Do Instead

Walking outside

When we’re stressed to the max, it’s all too easy to slip into unhealthy habits as we attempt to cope with pressure, frustration, and overwhelm. 

Here are five stress-related habits that may sneak up on you as you deal with difficult times, and suggestions on what to do instead.

Negative self-talk

“I’m way too incompetent to handle this.” “I don’t deserve any kind of respect from my colleagues.” “I’m a total fraud.” 

It’s not uncommon for performance-related pressure to spur negative self-talk as we deal with the increasing stress of our jobs, schoolwork, and personal lives. However, negative self-talk can have debilitating effects on our mental health and make stress levels even worse.

What to do instead:

When you find yourself engaging in negative thinking, stop and practice some breathing exercises to ground yourself - especially when you really feel yourself spiraling. 

Journaling can also help you parse your thoughts and filter out the useful insights (“Maybe I can ask for some support from a colleague for this tough project”) vs. the harmful beliefs (“I don’t have any useful talents or skills to offer at my job”).

You can also stop and consider whether you would speak to a friend in the same way that you’re speaking to yourself. If your friend were feeling down, what kind of encouragement or advice would you give them? Be just as kind to yourself.

Over- or under-eating

Who among us hasn’t thrown ourselves on the couch and indulged in our favorite unhealthy foods to help a stressful day seem better? While an occasional splurge isn’t normally anything to worry about, making this a daily habit can harm us in the long run if we’re not aiming for an overall balanced diet.

Conversely, it can be all too easy to forget to eat when our schedules are packed to the max - so we run all day off of coffee instead of nutritious food that will properly fuel us. 

What to do instead:

If you’re a stress-eater, stop and take stock of how you’re feeling when you get the urge to snack… and snack… and snack. If you find that you’re eating to address an emotional need, rather than to satisfy hunger and fuel your body, perhaps try another way to fulfill those emotional needs. 

Lean on stress management and mindfulness practices that fully ground you in the moment. Release the tension in your muscles by going for a walk, stretching, or playing with the family pet.

On the flip side, if you tend to skip meals when you’re stressed and running around to keep up with your packed schedule, try to find some time each night to pack up a few quick and easy snacks to grab between appointments. 

This snack recipe only takes 10 minutes to make and provides protein, CBD, and CBG for healthy energy support.†

Tossing sleep out the window

Over time, a lack of sleep can cause changes in mood and trouble focusing, among many other concerning effects. 

Whether it’s because you’re simply too wound up to get to sleep, or because nighttime is the only leisure time you can fit in for yourself during a long day, skimping on sleep is a common stress-induced habit that can do more to exacerbate stress than help you work through it. 

What to do instead:

If you’re a revenge bedtime procrastinator, make your “you time” a non-negotiable part of your day earlier in the evening. Consider if there are any tasks on your plate that you can pass off to someone else. Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to every commitment that comes your way. 

You’ll be able to handle your stress and show up better for your loved ones in the long run, if you make self-care a top priority and work it into your schedule as such. For more information on how to make self-care an integral part of your day, check out our free guide for self-care tips and tricks.

If you find that you’re too anxious from the day to wind down at night, try some mindfulness and breathing exercises as you lay in bed. Relax your body before getting under the covers by taking a warm bath or shower. Certain products can also help support an evening relaxation routine, such as Downshift CBN + CBD Oil.


Related: What Can CBD Do for Me?


Withdrawing from loved ones or your community

Setting boundaries and being okay with saying “no” to commitments that you know will overextend you is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with stress. However, if you find yourself deeply withdrawing from your friends, family, and wider community on a regular basis, that can be cause for concern.

What to do instead:

Try to connect with a loved one at least once a day. Whether that’s a phone call, text message, coffee date, or a meal, building bonds and maintaining social and familial connections are a key tool in managing stress. Your support network will be able to help keep you grounded and clear-headed during difficult, hectic times.


When we’re overwhelmed, it’s often very tempting and very easy to put off the tasks that stress us out the most. Unfortunately, this not only makes those tasks feel more and more impossible to deal with, but can actually cause us to start slipping on our responsibilities.

What to do instead: 

Consider at what time during the day you tend to feel the most positive or productive. Commit to accomplishing just one task that is stressing you out during that time. 

Set a timer and focus on only that task for 30 minutes. Once the timer is up, set that task aside and move on with your day. You can repeat this process for as many days as you need to get the difficult tasks on your list done and out of the way.

A final note

At the end of the day, remember that asking for help is not a bad thing, nor is it a sign of weakness. If you still feel that your stress is out of hand no matter how many stress management techniques you try, consider meeting with a mental health professional for extra support. 

If you feel you may need access to professional resources, the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you connect with providers in your area depending on your needs.