No matter what your current situation may be, stress and anxiety have a knack for finding their way into our lives. Whether you are incredibly busy without much time to yourself, dealing with too much free time due to the pandemic, or even in a very regular schedule and lifestyle, there are things that anyone can do that can help lower those levels of anxiety and stress. Here are some ideas for both in-the-moment and long-term anxiety and stress relief options for you to consider.*
Take 60-90 seconds to ground yourself
Whatever you are doing, take just a minute or two to fully be in the moment with it and recenter yourself. Notice your feet on the ground, how each part of your body feels, notice the sounds and smells around you. Really touch and feel and observe whatever you may be holding, and be fully present in the moment. This mindfulness trick keeps you from thinking too much, and forces you back into the here and now.
Make meditation and mindfulness part of your daily routine
If you can, meditate every day at the same time. The more you meditate, the more equipped you are to face anxiety and stress in your everyday life. Persistent meditation builds focus, clarity, and equanimity. (Want to learn more? See our previous blogs on Meditation: I & II)
Mindfulness is a way to stay in the present moment, and keep worrisome thoughts from overwhelming you. Stress about the future, regret from the past, existential anxieties and discomfort can become limited if you can step outside of your thoughts and be aware of yourself and your surroundings.
There are many ways to practice breathwork. One easy way is to inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds for a couple minutes until you feel the anxiety and stress fall away.
Changing the way you think or speak to yourself
Try rewording the way you’re thinking about things, so that negative or unhelpful verbiage are changed and reworked into an opportunity. For example, instead of thinking “There is no way I’ll have enough time today to get everything done,” try thinking “There is still time today to get what I can done.”
Drink more water
The benefits of consistently drinking water are too numerous to count. Studies show that dehydration exacerbates anxiety and stress. If you have trouble reaching your daily water intake goals, try purchasing a water bottle with encouraging markers to motivate you throughout the day.
Get more sleep, on a regular schedule
We know it’s hard, but avoiding an ever-fluctuating sleep schedule can be a huge help in managing your anxiety & stress. A good way to keep yourself on schedule is to set a bedtime as well as a wake-up time, and try to stick to it as often as possible. You’ll wake up less groggy, AND less stressed. Learn more about how sleep and anxiety are connected HERE.
Eat well & exercise
A healthy, well balanced diet helps your brain stay healthy, and exercise releases endorphins and burns away cortisol, which is the hormone that causes stress. Make eating healthy fun by learning new recipes, and stepping out of your food comfort zone! If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to exercise, try finding a buddy to go along with you on your fitness journey.
Take a little time to play a game on your phone
If your brain is feeling fried from a lot of work on the same subject, take a quick break to play a semi-mindless game like Candy Crush or Tetris, which utilizes other parts of your brain, so you can recharge and have a bit of fun at the same time.
Paint your nails, do a face mask, take a nap, check sports stats, sing in the shower, cook, garden, or take a little time to do something you enjoy just for you. Spend time doing the things you know you love. The activities that help you relax. You’ll feel better for it.
Spend time outside
Fresh air, nature, a little vitamin D…all things that can instantly help you feel more connected to the moment and get you out of your own worries.
Listen to a podcast, a guided meditation, or music you love
Taking some time to hear a story, to take a guided imaginary walk through nature, or listening to songs that make you happy or feel good are great ways to distance yourself from your stress and anxiety. Taking a moment to listen to things that are comforting and familiar, or newly calming, can take you out of harmful thought patterns, and elevate your mood and awareness.
Stop Doom-Scrolling! Take a break from the news and social media
No news is good news, right? Headlines are dramatic. Try and take a healthy step away from current events and news reporting. It’s always important to be informed, but there is a natural urge to keep going through more and more news and media which can increase negative emotions, leading to stress and anxiety. Consuming more doesn’t lead to more knowledge or information (usually). It just reinforces the headlines in your mind. Mostly negative events seem to be the content news and media focus on.
Social media can cause several negative emotions, like fear of missing out, insecurity, jealousy, a negative body image, or influence that may or may not be helpful to you at all.
Put it away, take a break, and recenter yourself in your own reality.
* If your stress and anxiety are disrupting or greatly impacting your day to day life, it’s important to seek the advice and aid of a mental health professional.
Blog researched and written by JMF Communications Associate, Lauren Maley