Is stress to blame for bad habits?
If you’re short of willpower when it comes to bad habits like overeating, you may be surprised to discover that stress may not be to blame. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, contradicts the idea that being under pressure leads to bad habits. Instead, the study suggests, people are just as likely to maintain gym habits or eat healthily.
The study reveals that stress does lead to relapses into bad behaviour, but it can also work to reinforce good habits as well.
Focusing on the behaviour of 65 students over a 10-week term, researchers at The University of Southern California studied found that during a time of stress (such as an exam period), when students were stressed and sleep-deprived, they were even more likely to stick to old habits. Why? The team reveal it’s because the participants didn’t have the energy to do something new.
For instance, those who ate pastries or doughnuts for breakfast during the term ate even more junk food during exams. However, the same was also true of the healthy ‘oatmeal eaters’ - who were also likely to stick to their habits and routine.
And those who read the newspaper’s editorial pages of the newspaper every day continued even when they were short of time. Meanwhile, regular gym-goers were even more likely to go to the gym even more when stressed.
So, do old habits die hard? What do you think?
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