10 ways to deal with stress and anxiety
Everyone experiences a some amount of stress and a certain feeling of anxiety as a normal part of life.
Stress and anxiety are a result of living in an often chaotic world. Anxiety isn’t all bad, though. It makes you aware of danger, motivates you to stay organized and prepared, and helps you evaluate risks. But, if anxiety becomes a daily struggle, it will soon be time to act before it snowballs. Unchecked anxiety may greatly impact your quality of life. It is well known that stress can cause illness.
Actively managing your stress can help you to alleviate anxiety, because it removes causes of worry. Some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety are:
- being nervous or scared
- feeling irritable, agitated
- thinking everything’s going to go wrong
- thinking I can’t focus on anything but my worries
- experiencing problems concentrating
That is why you should use tools like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, simply relax time, and more… to work on their stress.
Chances are you are stressing and anxious about the same things day after day. Whether that is family, your job, traffic, finance, relationships, weight, food, holding grudges, or anything else doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you can take some steps to calm things down.
The good news is you can get better, and either learn to manage the anxiety or deal with it at the source. Your brains can change, adapt, and rebuild itself as you practice new behaviours.
Here is a list of things to show you how to destress yourself.
Here are 10 ways to deal with stress and anxiety - and a bonus extra
Relaxation through Breathing and Meditation
Learn to relax. I am talking about purposeful relaxation, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation. Such activities are essential in training your body to relax. Relaxation should be a part of your daily regimen.
Shallow, fast breathing is common with anxiety. It may lead to a fast heart rate, dizziness or lightheadedness, or even a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises - the deliberate process of taking slow, even, deep breaths - can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety.
Wim Hof takes breathing to a whole different level. I strongly recommend to look him up. Check his book The Way of the Iceman.
Meditation is fast becoming mainstream, with the western world embracing it and discovering many benefits, including reducing stress.
The people at 8 minute meditation say this: Numerous studies by prestigious and credible institutions, like the Harvard Medical School, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAM) corroborate what practitioners of meditation have known all along: meditation is one of the most natural and effective stress-reduction tools ever created.
Talk with people
Finding someone to talk to is one of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety and boost your motivation. While you may initially feel more anxiety about opening up and being vulnerable to others, you will eventually be able to use it as an outlet. You can open up to friends, relatives or even AA or similar recovery groups.
Recovery groups give you the opportunity to spend time with others who have had similar experiences, to talk about problems and cravings without judgement, and possibly to find friends and “sober buddies” you can spend time with. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all group. If you don’t feel comfortable after attending at least 5 meetings, try to go somewhere else.
It may be difficult to force yourself to refocus, and shift your mindset away from the stress and anxiety you are feeling.
As you start your mindset shift, find and write down a list of things you are grateful for. Read them aloud. Visualize every single item on that list. Take a photo of that list and take it with you everywhere you go.
Transform those items into a short sentence, making them affirmations. Affirmations are very powerful.
I have used Rocketbook notebooks to help me write things down and track them.
Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.
Saying no is certainly a huge challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. “No” is your protector. When you say “No” you are telling those around you to respect you and your time. You are also respecting the other commitments and promises you have made. It empowers you to succeed.
When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain”. Say a good plain “No”.
Stay hydrated and sleep
There is so much you can do to help your nervous system recover from stress and anxiety.In fact you whole body and mind benefit from staying hydrated and a good sleep.
Staying hydrated means drinking water. Lots of water. About ½ a gallon worth of water, every day. Get yourself a good drink bottle and take it everywhere you go.
As far as sleeping is concerned, sleep at the very least 8 hours a night regularly and try to reduce your screen time before and after sleep.
Cognititive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is known to be a helpful tool in treating certain mental health disorders like PTSD and eating disorders. It is also used to treat stress and anxiety with in a goal-oriented approach.
Typically, you will seek the support of a professional therapist who will apply the CBT techniques to help you. If you don’t feel comfortable with the first therapist you see, try someone else. It is important to have a good fit.
Nowadays you can seek the help of a therapist online. The people at online-therapy specialise in this type of online support, including cognitive therapy for depression.
Write things down
Writing things down is an easy way to cope with them and to give them scope. Many psychologists recommend journalling to both catalogue your thoughts and processes, but also to allow you to fully flesh out what you are worried about so that you can understand why it stresses you.
Creating a daily journal is one solution, but you can also try simply keeping a log of things you’re anxious about and why. You may also want to take it a step further and try to come up with solutions - but that isn’t necessary to experience the stress-relieving benefits of writing things down.
It may be cliché, but exercise actually helps with stress and anxiety. The most commonly known reason is that exercise releases chemicals into the body, which helps you to relaxat, give you a sensation of satisfaction, and even pleasure.
This also works to alleviate cravings, because you’re giving your body a small, natural hit of the same substances that you’re likely craving in synthetic form.
The second reason exercise works is that it forces you to focus on what you’re doing, clearing your mind, and then you find that you are not thinking about the things that stress you out.
That’s important, considering some experts suggest that the average human spends 50% of all waking hours worrying. It will help you to de-stress and feel better.
Another thing about exercising: even light exercise like walking helps to promote blood flow and oxygenation, which helps you feel better, give you more energy, and reduce fatigue related stress and anxiety.
Does this mean you have to hit the gym every day? No, it doesn’t. Feel free to pick a light exercise or activity you enjoy. The fun thing to know is that dancing, tennis, and gardening all count as exercise, so enjoy it.
You've undoubtedly heard of all the negative effects gradually chipping away at us from constant exposure to devices. Sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, and distraction are only the beginning of device overexposure. Instead, set aside time to detox so you are regularly giving your eyes and brain a vacation from the constant labor of technology.
This one really sounds drastic and if you are worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, try first doing it at times you are unlikely to be contacted-maybe Sunday morning.
Here is a quick list of practical ways to do this detox:
- Be conscious of screen time and make sure you get your work done first
- Use an app timer to help break the app addiction you have
- Get a notebook to write your ideas, rather than using a computer or phone
- Leave the phone behind at lunch
- Turn off the lights and screens (phone as well) at 9 pm
As you grow more comfortable with this, and as your loved ones, friends and coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.
Seek professional help
However, if your anxiety is persistent, even with treatment and management, it is important that you seek out professional help through your doctor.
You may have an anxiety disorder and you may need therapy which will help you to build stronger coping mechanisms and more importantly you may require prescription drug to help with chemical imbalance in your brain.
If you’re concerned about being given prescription drugs, you can discuss your options and preferences with your doctor.
Mindfulness is a simple, research-supported form of meditation that is an effective way to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors.
People who practice mindfulness regularly are more focused, even when they are not meditating. It is an excellent technique to help reduce stress because it allows you to reduce the feeling of being out of control.
Essentially, mindfulness helps you stop jumping from one thought to the next, which keeps you from ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.
There is much to benefit from mindfulness, and you may learn more about it from these resources.