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Checking your email obsessively throughout the day can be a major trigger for stress.

Stress — nobody wants it, and yet nearly all of us grapple with it on a daily basis. While some may actually work better under stress, these short-term benefits are eclipsed by their long-term risks to brain health and overall well-being. Extended periods of significant stress have been linked to heightened risks for hypertension, heart disease and stroke, among other debilitating and even fatal conditions. Living a stress-free life may be easier said than done, but once you've identified the major stressors in your day-to-day routine, you can take the necessary steps forward in cutting back those suffocating feelings of anxiety.

Here are three major causes of stress, as identified by the healthy living community Care2, and what you can do change them:

  • Commuting: Spending an hour every morning stuck in traffic or elbow-to-elbow on a crowded train likely already has you feeling stressed out and irritated before you've even set foot in the office. As a stress trigger, this can be a hard one to get around, since you do need to get to work. If possible, try riding a bike or walking to work instead — the combination of exercise and fresh air go a long way in stimulating brain health and energizing you for the day ahead. If the distance between your home and office makes that not an option, try spending your commute listening to calming music or a podcast instead, so that you have something more interesting — and less stressful — to focus on during your time in the car or bus.
  • Consuming too much caffeine: "While moderate amounts of delicious caffeine can be beneficial, exceeding your limit can have some undesirable sources," Jordyn Cormier of Care2 writes. "Too much of this stimulant can lead to elevated adrenaline, cortisol, anxiety and blood pressure. Chronically elevated levels of these things can do some serious damage to your health and make you prone to other ailments. Enjoy in moderation."
  • Obsessively checking your email: As convenient as smartphones have made our lives, sometimes they can be a little too convenient. While the ability to check your email on the go, 24/7, is undoubtedly a great perk, feeding into that expectation and checking your email multiple times per day can actually incite stress reactions in the brain. This doesn't mean you should immediately dump your phone, of course, but rather set specific times for yourself throughout the day — ideally no more than three — where you can allow yourself to catch up on emails.

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