Let’s face it; stress and anxiety aren’t going anywhere. As long as we’re living, we’re going to experience these emotions in one form or another and we all have different levels of anxiety and stress in our daily lives. But, there are some very simple ways in which you can reduce these feelings and create a more relaxed state of mind even in the midst of difficult times.
1. Breathe. Yes, it may sound cliché but it really works. Stop for a moment, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth.
2. Get Organized. We often get anxious or stressed out because we feel like we’ve forgotten to do something. Eliminate that by using a calendar; either on your phone or on paper. Being organized will stave off some stress and anxiety because you’re not so flustered.
3. Talk to Yourself. Talk, out loud, to yourself about what has you stressed and/or anxious. Tell yourself why you feel this way, what you need to do to get through your current situation, and that everything is going to be okay.
4. Take a walk. Walking isn’t just for physical health; it works wonders for mental health, too! It helps to clear your mind.
5. Get a Massage. A relaxing massage will help ease your body of tension and free your mind of the worries and stresses of the day.
6. Find the Heating Pad. Heat relieves tension and stress around the neck and shoulders. You can also put the heating pad on your chest when you feel anxious to help relieve that feeling.
7. Try Aromatherapy. Scents like lavender help reduce stress levels. Light some candles and breathe in the aromatic scents and feels your worries wash away.
8. Tea Time. Drinking black tea can help lower the stress hormone, cortisol, levels and lead to relaxation.
9. Focus on now. Worrying about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow increases stress and anxiety and doesn’t have any positive effects on your body. Focus on the here and now.
10. Turn up the tunes. Listening to music is a great escape from the day-to-day responsibilities we have. Turn on your favorite music and sing along.
11. Get it off your mind. Keeping a journal is a great way to express all of your feelings and learn from them. Grab a pen and a notebook and write down all of your stresses and what makes you anxious.
12. Say NO to caffeine. Caffeine can aggravate stress, especially anxiety. It’s okay to have your morning cup o’ Joe but try to be caffeine free the rest of the day.
13. Maintain a proper diet. Eating the right foods our bodies need will help stave off stress and anxiety. Fruits, veggies, and foods with high omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce stress.
14. Laugh. Laughing decreases cortisol and adrenaline and tricks your nervous system into making you happy. Sit back with your favorite comedy and laugh your worries away.
15. Exercise. Hit the gym on those really stressful days to blow off steam. Exercise releases endorphins to make you happy that snuff out cortisol.
16. Chew gum. Who would’ve thought that gum could be a great stress reliever? Chewing gum reduces cortisol levels to ease stress. Take it a step further; make it sugarless gum.
17. Hang out with your pet. People with pets, specifically dog owners, have been shown to have less stress. Don’t have a dog? Head out to the local dog park and make a new friend.
18. Phone-a-Friend. Chatting with a friend can ease stress and anxiety. It can also give you a new perspective on your current situation.
19. Meditate. Meditation has been shown to have positive effects on stress. Find a quiet place and let your mind go.
20. Try Self-Hypnosis. In today’s world, there’s an app for everything. Hypnosis can help reduce anxiety and it’s a great technique for stress relief.
21. Listen to calming sounds. This one is different to turn up the tunes because this is all about listening to soothing, calming sounds. Sounds like a thunder storm, waves crashing at the beach, or birds chirping on a spring day. You got it…there’s an app for that, too!
22. Take a nap. Naps reduce cortisol levels, which decreases stress. Find some time to take a 20 minute nap and you’ll feel amazingly refreshed.
23. Get a touchstone. A what? A touchstone is something small and smooth. You hold it in your hand and rub it gently with your thumb when you’re stressed or anxious.
24. Hug it out. Sometimes all it takes is a hug to make our day better. Hugging may reduce blood pressure and stress in adults.
25. Smooch. Kissing releases chemicals that zap out stress hormones. What are you waiting for? Grab a loved one and give them a kiss!
With all of these tips, there’s always a way that you can deal with stress and anxiety in an empowering way. These feelings are part of life and we’re never going to eliminate them completely. But, these tips help us manage those feelings in a more positive way, which will have a better impact on our lives.
What two tips do you use now? We’d love to hear.
Live Mentally Healthy,
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill