28 Sep How to manage stress and anxiety
With a lot of things out of our control at the moment, there is no surprises we are all feeling an increase in stress and anxiety. Whether it’s work, parenting or personal stress, it is not healthy to try and ignore it and hope it goes away. There is no shame in feeling stressed and anxious and one of the best ways to get back to feeling yourself is talking to someone. If anxiety and stress has become a significant part your life, seek help from a psychologist or counselor, stress is their specialty. You don’t have to do this on your own – remember, it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
Along with seeking professional help here are some great ways to help de-stress and reduce your anxiety levels.
Circuit breaker Get your mind off the problem, it’s not going anywhere, but you can. Take the dog for a mini walk. Watch a comedy. Take yourself to a yoga or pilates class. Meditate. Listen to your favourite song. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea.
Avoid caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that increases adrenaline in the body, the very hormone you are looking to reduce. Avoid coffee (decaf is OK), colas, guarana, and more than 2 cups of tea daily.
Eat small meals often Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is key to stabilizing mood. Ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein. For example, a hard-boiled egg and lettuce, some almonds, a can of tuna and brown rice.
Breathe The more anxious you become, breathing becomes shallower and higher in the chest. Consciously lengthen your breath, breathing deeper into the belly. Count to three on the in-breath, and four on the out-breath. Try this now, do five controlled breaths and feel how it can change your minds focus.
Tell someone who cares: Phone your mum, dad, sister, brother or a friend. Acknowledging you are finding a situation stressful, and being heard and understood by someone who cares for you, even if they can’t physically help, will reduce stress levels.
Cocooning: In the moment you feel totally overwhelmed, gently place both palms side by side on your face, fingers gently resting on your closed eyelids. This can help centre you, give you a momentary break and quieten the mind, until you feel more centred and ready to face the world again.
Get Enough Sleep: Sleep allows the brain cells to get enough protein to fuel growth and repair the damage caused by stress and other factors. Sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy emotional state. Get eight hours of sleep a night and you will begin to experience a noticeable difference in your anxiety levels.
Meditation: Meditation helps limit worrying thoughts and bring about a feeling of calm, focus and balance by causing you to enter into a deep state of relaxation. Studies conclude that meditation has a positive effect on generalized anxiety disorder.
Activities: Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.
Nature: Get out in nature, if possible. Sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Even a walk around your neighborhood can make you feel better. Just be sure to avoid crowds, keep your distance from people you encounter, and obey restrictions in your area.
Exercise: Staying active will help you release anxiety, relieve stress, and manage your mood. While gym and group classes may be limited, you can still cycle or walk. Or if you’re stuck at home, look online for exercise videos you can follow. There are many things you can do even without equipment, such as yoga and exercises that use your own bodyweight.
Stress and anxiety feel like chains around your feet dragging you down into a pit of despair. But the more you practice these techniques and incorporate them into your daily routine, the easier it will become to manage these emotions.