A lot of people have dealt with anxiety in one form or another, but knowing how to deal with your stress and manage it in a healthy way is often looked over. Above all else, it’s important to normalise the conversation on anxiety to emphasise that you’re not alone in this. Because of this, I have gathered a list of things that can assist you in managing high levels of stress.
You may be thinking you’ve heard it all before, but sometimes a refresh of the basics can set in those good habits and maybe even remind you to get the help that you need. Even though these tips will not cure your anxiety, they will at least give you the means to be able to deal with the feelings that may arise.
It’s important to mention, however, that I am not an expert on stress management. If feelings of anxiety is an obstacle in your daily life, NBGA encourages you to seek help from a professional.
#1 TAKE TIME OUT
If at any moment you feel overwhelmed, take yourself away from the situation and refocus your mind. Have some water and allow yourself a few minutes to regather your thoughts or find your breath. Don’t keep struggling, whatever you’re doing at that moment, put yourself first and don’t worry about anyone else.
#2 CUT OUT CAFFEINE
I know it may seem like you can’t live without it, but that extra coffee shot or afternoon energy drink is not helping. Caffeine is a stimulant and for someone with anxiety, having it in your system can cause your body to go into fight or flight mode. Research has linked the two, causing heart palpitations and panic attacks. You don’t have to cut it out forever, but if you’re feeling worried at all, best leave it out.
Getting away for the weekend or having the girls round for a movie night is exactly what you need for some short-term relief. Distract yourself by doing something fun with the people who make you happiest, and even though this won’t completely fix your anxiety, it will give you something to look forward to.
Incorporating movement into your day to day life releases endorphins, which have heaps benefits that will completely change your mentality. Having the motivation at times can be exhausting in itself, but start slow and find an activity you enjoy. Going for a walk or even mopping the kitchen are both quick and effective ways of exercising without tiring yourself out. Go to a fitness class with a friend or if you don’t have access to a gym follow along to a youtube tutorial. Remember this is for you, so don’t pressure yourself into doing more than you can cope with.
Now I’m not saying sit crossed legged and hum until you turn blue (unless you like that), but mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls emotion) relieving your body of stress. Simply get in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, turn on some relaxing music, close your eyes and allow your brain to switch off. It may be difficult at first, but stick with it, meditation has been shown to have long-term effects such as increased energy and concentration.
#6 GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep is a crucial part of your health and mental well-being. If you have trouble getting enough rest at night, consider a nighttime routine to help you relax and drift off easier. Have a long bath with your favourite bath bomb and salts, or turn off electrical devices and read a book. Chilling out after a long day isn’t selfish, it’s an essential part of your routine telling your body it’s time to rest. And if you’re still having issues with your sleeping pattern, consider looking into CRSD or other sleep disorders and contact your doctor for help.
#7 STAY ORGANISED
Sometimes when you feel like your life is a mess, your anxiety can be heightened. Planning can be a great way to help sort what needs prioritising and clear your mind of the unnecessary worry. Make a list of the tasks that need doing that day and work your way through until they’re all completed. Even little things like tidying your room can make a huge difference, seeing everything come together before your eyes will give you a sense of achievement and may save you time in the future.
#8 GET CREATIVE
Have you ever listened to a song and thought “that’s me, I’ve been there.” or saw a piece of artwork that you felt weirdly connected to? Well, sometimes we need to know our problems physically to be able to solve them. Even if you’re not the most creative person try writing, drawing, painting, singing, whatever you want. You don’t have to show anybody, and you can throw it away if you so wish, but using a different form of expression than you’re used to can release anxiety in a fun and innovative way.
It can be scary telling people how you feel, but it’s more frightening to think about the build-up of emotions you’re keeping bottled up inside. Talk to someone you trust about the issues you’re dealing with, once you’ve opened up you’ll receive the help you need and gain support. There are also many free helplines you can contact that have specialists you can talk to at any time.
# 10 SAY YES
Giving into anxiety can stop you from doing what you want to do to most. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can give you that boost you need to say yes to whatever comes your way. Don’t let the panic rule over you, face your fears head on, and by saying “yes” to that dinner or “yes” to that job you’re proving that you are stronger than you may believe.