Anxiety and stress can overwhelm us to the point of not being able to appreciate the now. A road trip with friends, smelling the rain before it pours, and hearing a song that reminds you of something great; things like these show us how wonderful life can be. As it so happens, life can also be filled with challenges and uncertainty, both of which can create a negative and sometimes debilitating mental state. If you’re struggling with anxiety or stress, keep reading for 5 tips that can help reduce its severity.
Breathing. Everybody does it. We started our lives breathing and we don’t even realise the rise and fall of our chests throughout our day. In fact, breathing is so powerful it can even be used as a secret weapon to distract ourselves from, and to control anxious thoughts and feelings. The very mechanism of breathing is enough to remove ourselves from our internal stresses to bring us back into reality.
The next time you feel overrun by stress and anxiety, try focussing on your breathing. Get started by taking in air through your nose for 4 seconds. Then hold it in the back of your throat for 4 seconds before slowly exhaling from your mouth for another 4 seconds. Play around with the amount of time spent on each breathing step to achieve optimum calming effects. Use daily activities like showering as way to intentionally de-stress.
- Reduce Stress by reducing Social Media and Screen Time
While social media can provide us with endless entertainment (cats + cucumbers = quality YouTube viewing), it can also subtly contribute to anxiety. If the first thing you do when you wake up is scroll through your Facebook Newsfeed, there’s a strong chance you’ll spot an aggravating post or a negative world event. Even enjoying your favourite television show can be punctuated by sensationalised and often negative news stories. While it’s important to be up-to-date with friends and current world events, it’s also vital to take a step back every now and then, especially if you’re dealing with anxiety. Try designating a small amount of time per day to check out your social media profiles, then log out completely. When the news comes on, watch a movie or documentary instead, and catch up on current events at a time that works best for you.
- Be With Friends
Surround yourself as often as you can with the type of friends that treat you with respect and work to lift you up, not bring you down. If you don’t have a group of friends that promote positivity, don’t fret! Try joining a local sporting team or go along to group meetups in your area to find those you click with. If you suffer from social anxiety, try talking to a trusted professional so they can help you reap the benefits of great relationships.
- Switch Worry For Action
Have you ever found yourself biting your nails to stubs as you think over a past awkward conversation or an upcoming performance review? Tell yourself ‘not now’ the next time you get caught up in draining rumination. This assertion will help you break the worrying cycle and bring you back into reality. To keep yourself distracted from unhelpful thoughts read your favourite book or go for a run. The latter is especially fantastic, as exercise relieves any adrenaline built up from the ‘fight-or-flight’ response you often experience when you stress out. The worry might not go away completely, but you’ll still have your fingernails and you would have spent time on real, soul-nourishing activities.
- Understand It Takes Time
Everyone is completely individual and unique. This means certain tips will work and others won’t. Therefore, it’s important you don’t write yourself off as someone who will never overcome or control their anxiety and stresses. It’s a day-by-day process, and it takes time. Just don’t give up!
What do you do when you feel worried or stressed? Please share your thoughts with us. Remember to take care of yourself, because you’re worth it.
Renee is a 20-something writer who has a love-hate relationship with fictional characters. If she doesn’t have her eyes glued to the big screen, you’ll find her chasing sunsets by the water. Having grown up with sensitive skin, she’s passionate about sharing and celebrating natural products that really work.