Ten-Day Challenge

People tend to think that stress factors are prevalent in their lives because of their behaviors and habits. However, it is not a verified statement. Stress is only a response to the daily issues that people experience throughout their lives (Peri, 2014). Furthermore, the right amount of stress can positively influence people’s motivation and keep them energetic and alert. However, too much stress makes humans tense and nervous, and can substantially affect their way of life.

The majority of people does not realize that sitting in front of a TV or doing other daily routines causes more stress than they assume. Hence, the usual ways of reducing stress only perpetuate it. Most scholars say that, in order to eradicate stress from everyday life, it is necessary to change the behaviors and habits that contribute to stress, such as constant texting, using social networks, doing too many house chores, eating junk food, etc. During the ten-day challenge, I tried to pay attention to the habits of going to bed late and eating unhealthy food, and thus managed to substantially decrease the level of stress in my life.

The first behavior I decided to change was going to bed late. Being overloaded with new information at the university and completing numerous assignments, it was impossible for me to go to bed earlier than midnight. I became aware of this unhealthy habit after flicking through a newspaper at home. I saw an article about a horrific car accident.

According to the medical expertise described in the newspaper, the main reason why the car crash happened was the driver’s sleep deprivation. I started browsing the Internet and found evidence of sleepiness causing disasters. The National Traffic Safety Administration reckons that 100,000 automobile crashes that result in 1,550 deaths are caused by fatigue and drowsiness (Peri, 2014). The history also provides examples of accidents that happened because of people’s negligence that also stemmed from the lack of sleep. These instances include the accident at Three Mile Island that happened in 1979 or the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill (Peri, 2014).

My mother has never approved of my sleeping habits. This is why she was responsible for observing how well I was coping with this task. At 10 p.m., she switched off the television and the Interned in my room and made me go to bed.

As noted above, sleep can actually influence the way people are vulnerable to certain stress factors. Sleep-deprived people are a potential hazard to the public safety and a growing concern. Mostly, the problem of drowsiness occurs among people who are younger than 25 years of age. However, whilst the adolescents do not get enough sleep due to their personal aspirations, adults are overwhelmed at works and suffer from sleepiness unwillingly.

Contribution of Sleepiness to Stress

The first reason why I decided to eradicate the habit of going to bed late is that sleep deprivation plays a critical role in the efficiency of my learning process and critical thinking. Scholars acknowledge that being sleepy hurts cognitive processes in various ways. First, it impairs concentration, alertness, reasoning, problem solving, and attention. Besides, it impedes efficient learning (Peri, 2014). I noticed that sleepiness has already become a burning issue in my studying process. At night, the recollections and mind consolidate and transform into long-term memory. When a person does not sleep well, it becomes impossible for them to memorize the experiences and pieces of information learned during the day.

The second important reason that forced me to sleep more was the fact that the lack of sleep puts additional stress on the immune system and strongly influences health. For example, it can cause a heart attack, hair loss, heart disease, and constant high blood pressure. What is more, it also triggers diabetes and obesity.

Another reason to add several hours to your sleep schedule is that sleepiness makes people forgetful. This also has a scientific explanation. Several American and French scholars in 2009 determined that during the deepest levels of sleep the brain events called “sharp wave ripples” transfer learned information from hippocampus to the neocortex of our brain, the place where the long-term memory can be found (Peri, 2014). When a person does not sleep enough, the information they have learned earlier vanishes and is not stored in the brain. Thus, I challenged myself to sleep more during these ten days to improve my memory, make it sharper, and develop the quality of my thinking.
Not only did I add several hours to my sleeping time but also improved its quality. The notion of sleeping cycles states that the most “fruitful” hours for sleep are from 10 p.m. until midnight. Having experienced going to bed at 10 p.m., I saw considerable improvements in my health. At first, my ability to memorize significantly improved. I was able to tackle the day’s stress easily. In addition, my skin and face have a better, fresher, and healthier look now. I am completely sure that the inner changes in my body are also significant and will become obvious in the nearest feature.

How Food Triggers Stress

The second behavior I decided to change was unhealthy eating. Whilst experimenting with my sleep patterns, I had to stop drinking coffee. It was necessary to improve the quality of my sleep. The lack of caffeine has led to the idea to challenge myself and completely change my eating habits. Before the ten-day challenge, I could not imagine that my behaviors can contribute to stress. I became aware of my second unhealthy behavior when I had spent a couple of hours browsing the Internet and literature. I found numerous articles about the ways food can reduce or increase stress. After that, I firmly decided to change the way I eat in order to reduce stress and anxiety in my life.
It is an undeniable fact that eating is strongly connected to stress. Most people overeat when they are stressed, which leads to irreversible changes in their organisms. However, food can also be a cause of stress. For example, one survey showed that people who do not care about healthy nutrition are vulnerable to 24 more stress factors than people who eat high quality food (Onderko, 2014).

The problem of eating unhealthily does not always lay in consuming junk food, soft drinks, and candy. This type of thinking is faulty. However, the really bad eating habits hide deeper and need more time to be identified and eradicated. When I changed my daily menu, I hoped to experience improvement in my ability to deflect burnout, acquire more energy for work and study, and experience less stress.

Having analyzed my daily diet, I noticed that the food I usually consume lacked vitamin B. These vitamins are responsible for easing anxiety and stimulating pleasure neurotransmitters. They are similar to serotonin and dopamine. Milk, green beans, salmon, oatmeal, chicken, and lentils all contain large amounts of vitamin B. That is why these foods became the basis of my daily menu. Additionally, a good relaxant for muscles is Magnesium. It helps produce calming neurotransmitters and relieve fatigue and irritation. I added almonds, spinach, and sunflower seeds to my menu. The autumn season is often referred to as the depressive one. In fact, the depression is also a result of stress and mood swings. This happens because of a lack of right food. In this particular case, it is the fatty acid Omega-3. What is more, Omega-3 helps reduce inflammation and makes the body less vulnerable to stressful situations (Onderko, 2014). The acid acts like a brain lubricant; it protects nerves and nerve endings. Salmon, oysters, flax, walnuts, and sardines all contain it. The last and presumably the most important element is the food that reduces stress through introducing Vitamin C to daily diets. When a person is stressed, the body produces cortisol that can destroy brain cells. Vitamin C helps prevent the damage and boosts the immune system of the body (Onderko, 2014).

Considering this information, I added broccoli, orange juice, and red peppers to my daily menu.
On the other hand, overeating unhealthy products also plays a significant role in experiencing depressions. While studying my sate during the 10 days challenge, I have noticed that I am prone to experiencing depressive moods. The reason was the food that I consumed. A recent study of American adolescents found that those who ate primarily processed and junk foods were 79 percent more likely to suffer from depression than their peers who mainly consumed fresh and healthy food (Onderko, 2014). It can be explained by the amount of “fake fats” that hydrogenated oils contain. People whose daily intake of trans fats is high are bound to suffer from depression and emotional problems. In fact, the more fats one includes in their daily diet, the worse their mental health is. In contrast, eating healthy food like vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat not only helps you become more fit, but it also boosts the energy, increases the brain’s resources, and eradicates stress and depression.

Sometimes it is difficult to stop eating all the favorite food items you used to enjoy. As a consolation, people should know that scientists recommend eating organic dark chocolate. It is considered one of top three “happiness food” items (Onderko, 2014). The study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology concluded that the constant consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvement of mood.

As far as I am concerned, eating junk food and the lack of vitamins in my diet contributed to the amount of stress in my life. Having transformed my daily diet into a healthier one, I noticed the sharpening of my memory, improvement of cognitive functions, better critical thinking, and enhanced mood. The habit of eating unhealthy food triggered the occurrence of stress in my life because of overdosing on fats and the lack of vitamins. Thanks to my mother, who was helping me cook the right dishes and monitoring if I am eating right during the ten days challenge, I was able to see that food is one of the key factors that help eliminate depression and stress.

Conclusion

In the increasingly fast-paced world of today, everyone feels overwhelmed and stressed. Scientists state that even small stress factors can damage our health. Stressful situations affect both the mind and the body and can lead to headaches, heart disease, and even depression. However, it is important to realize that some factors that cause stress hide in our everyday habits.

I have identified two bad habits that caused stress in my life. These were the habit of going to bad late and eating unhealthy food. During these ten days, I challenged myself to sleep at least eight hours and include useful vitamins and microelements in my daily diet. My mother was the person responsible for monitoring my accomplishments in changing these bad habits.

After ten days passed, I can claim that I will be following my new behaviors during the following years of my life. We are responsible for our physical and mental health. While it is not possible to eradicate stress factors form modern life completely, we can still make ourselves less vulnerable to them.