Stress and anxiety have become a regular part of our daily life. While stress is both positive and negative, long-term exposure to stress can have detrimental effects on not only our body but also our mind. The same is applicable for anxiety. People who face anxiety-provoking symptoms regularly are more likely to become anxiety-prone in nature which can have detrimental effects on their mental health.
The reason why stress can have adverse effects on your body is that stress response leads to the hormonal secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline. However, when stress becomes prolonged, it leads to the secretion of cortisol hormone which modifies several bodily functions. Long-term exposure to stress or what is also known as chronic stress can lead to heart attack, organ failure, and even death.
While you may not be able to always modify the sources of stress in your life, there are options available to optimize your body’s reaction to stressful and anxiety-provoking stimuli. Here are the top 10 techniques that can help you to reduce and cope with stress and anxiety:
1. Visit a Therapist
Visiting a mental health professional such as a licensed psychotherapist or a counselor is one of the most effective ways of dealing with anxiety and stress. As commendable as it is to figure out how to deal with these symptoms all on your own, professional intervention can open you up to a world of possibilities.
An essential part of dealing with mental health issues is to get to the root cause or triggers of the symptoms you may be experiencing. So, why do you need a professional to identify the root causes or understand your triggers? Well, it’s because when you try to identify these triggers or causes all on your own, it may be biased. A mental health professional can provide an unbiased insight into your life!
And here’s the thing: therapy can be highly empowering for any individual. It will equip you with the knowledge, tools, and techniques to deal with all types of stressors that you may encounter in your life. It’s not just limited to the ones you may be experiencing at the present time.
Moreover, these tools and techniques will be customised to your needs. You will be able to identify and implement techniques that work for you. What may work for you may not work for other people. Therapy addresses the uniqueness of every individual.
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Mental health needs to be normalized in our society so that visiting a therapist becomes as normal as going to a doctor when your tummy aches. The best person who can provide you with a plethora of techniques when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety is a therapist or a counselor. Do not be frightened to make your mental health a priority and visit a mental health professional when in need.
Meditation is undoubtedly one of the best ways to reduce tension and stress in your life. It has been accepted in both Eastern as well as Western psychology as an extremely important relaxation technique that can be done at home. You can learn meditation from a professional or even online.
There are many people who are under the impression that meditation has to be done in a specific way. People think that meditating requires one to chant different phrases while sitting in a dark room. Meditation is highly customisable. For some people, meditation might just be sitting in a relaxed position and working on their breathwork. For some people, it might be sitting and practising guided imagery. It all depends on what works for you!
The duration of meditation or the frequency of meditation is also completely dependent on you. If you can only spare 5 minutes in the morning, then go for it! It can be an hour long ritual that you practice twice a day or a 5-10 minutes exercise that you practice once a day.
Sparing a few minutes of your time every day to perform some meditation can help you feel better and help you calm your nerves.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a non-judgmental state of awareness about what is happening in your present scenario, both physically and mentally. Mindfulness is aimed to facilitate a sense of relaxation by focusing on the simple sensations and stimuli within yourself and your surroundings.
The best part about mindful exercises is that you can practise it while doing your day-to-day activities. It is about doing your day-to-day activities in a mindful manner. You don’t have to necessarily take out extra time in your busy day to practice mindfulness. For instance, when you’re taking a shower, you can close your eyes and focus on the sensation of the water touching your skin. You can create a sense of awareness about how the loofah feels on your body while you’re washing yourself.
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Several mindful practices can be integrated into your regular life such as mindful eating, body scan, mindful awareness of daily activities, and more. It can be as simple as taking your time to feel every emotion you experience in a particular moment or having a heightened sense of awareness about how your body is feeling. You can easily learn mindfulness techniques online or with the help of a professional.
4. Journal Writing
Maintaining a journal is an extremely easy yet effective way of making sure that you are choosing a healthy coping mechanism against all the stressful stimuli. Writing your thoughts and your experiences helps you to accept them easily and also to come to terms with reality. Journal writing has become a part of cognitive-behavioral therapy and has a scientific basis when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. It helped you to take some time off for yourself and be intimate with your thoughts.
The best part about journaling is that you can customize it to your lifestyle and needs. Do you have a hard time dealing with negativity? Well, gratitude journaling might be perfect for you. In gratitude journaling, you can kickstart your day by writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for that day. You may even end your day with gratitude journaling if that works best for you.
Journaling is not limited to penning your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s a lot more than that. If you struggle with some sort of phobia or fear or substance dependence such as smoking, drinking too much caffeine, etc, you can try to go for a more structured style of journaling. For each day, you can describe your experiences under different subheadings such as trigger, time, thoughts, feelings, response, etc.
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If you don’t like writing down these experiences on pen and paper, you can type it on a gadget such as a phone or tablet or laptop. You can even record audio clippings!
Regular exercise is undoubtedly great not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. Not only does this make you mindful about your body but also helps you take some time off your busy schedule to spend on yourself. At the same time exercise releases several hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which further help you in dealing with stressful situations in your life.
What’s great about exercise is that it can be anything that you enjoy! If you like going for a walk everyday, then that’s your preferred type of exercise. If you love dancing, then just spend a few minutes everyday dancing in your house!
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If you’re into strength training or calisthenics workouts, chalk out the time in your week to get that done! You can also do a combination of different types of exercises such as pilates, strength training, cardio, calisthenics, etc.
Yoga is much light exercising but has an ayurvedic root. All the product of the eastern community, it has been adopted in the west as one of the best techniques to relax and feel rejuvenated. Yoga is important not only for increasing flexibility in your body but controlled breathing is very important in reducing stress. The different yoga positions are very helpful and have their specific applicability and advantages. But a yoga mat and you are all set for your morning yoga routine.
7. Self Care Practices
Spending some time of the day simply absorbed in self-care practices is a good way of reminding your body and mind that you are a priority. The mindful application of a face mask or even running a warm bath can be extremely rejuvenating and help you wash the stress off. Even if you are busy and have a tough time managing your schedule, keep some time for yourself and do what you like. Pamper yourself with all you need!
The concept of self-care is truly open to your own interpretation of it. Some people view self-care from a purely physical perspective. They see it as exercising regularly or drinking enough water or consuming balanced meals. For some people, self-care may be more mental. It might be meditation, journaling, positive affirmations, positive self-talk, etc.
It all depends on how you see it. But, one of the simplest ways to incorporate some self-care into your daily life is by taking a shower regularly, having a good oral hygiene routine, a good skincare regimen, exercising regularly, eating well, and taking some time out to do your hobbies!
Self-care comes from a place of loving yourself. When you mindfully practice self-care, you learn to appreciate yourself, value yourself, and believe in yourself. All these aspects help you work on your self-esteem. When your self-esteem grows, your ability to cope with stressors improves!
8. Practice Art
Art is for one’s own and all. It does not matter what kind of art form you subscribe to. You can try adult coloring books as they are extremely de-stressing and have been found to increase cognitive abilities as well. There are a wide variety of ways in which you can practice it in your day-to-day life. From hand lettering to simply doodling even amidst a heavy schedule is a great way to take some time off and do something that gives you joy.
9. Cooking and Eating
When it comes to cooking and baking it allows you time to experiment and include a sensory element in your daily routine. Cooking with new or old ingredients can add comfort and provide you with delicious results. However, if cooking feels too much to you, eat what you love as it will allow you to feel relaxed immediately.
Cooking and eating are great sensory experiences which help you to improve your sense of awareness. When you’re cooking or eating, you use all five of your sense organs to perceive the experience. Therefore, when you do these activities, you have the opportunity to become more mindful and aware of yourself and your surroundings.
Moreover, these two practices are great for feeling a sense of satisfaction and achievement. When you find a great recipe that is healthy and tasty and you put in the time to cook that dish, it can make you feel accomplished and happy. Eating something delicious and healthy means that you’re taking care of yourself by nourishing your body and treating your taste buds! So, when you’re feeling down, treat yourself to something yummy and healthy!
10. Social Support is Key
For boosting your mental health and reducing the effects of stress and anxiety in your life, social support is a tremendous help. This doesn’t mean that you have to go outside your comfort zone to build friendships. However, try to acknowledge the small things in life and the little things that make you happy. Whether it be your colleague or your romantic partner, try to solidify the relationship.
Countless research studies have shown the benefits of having supportive interpersonal relationships. When you’re around people who love you and vice-versa, you may experience a sense of protection and happiness. Taking out the time to spend with your relatives, close friends, partner, can be a wonderful way to cope with stress.
With these simple methods, you will be able to reduce stress and anxiety to a considerable extent.
Deepak Chheepa has been specializing in Digital Marketing. He currently works as the Digital Marketing Executive at Ubuy India. He loves to write articles about different topics to share his thoughts, ideas and knowledge with the world.