Every day, we experience a great amount of stress and anxiety.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming, other times we get over it through our own fight or flight strategies.
A good example is this current pandemic that sent many countries into partial or complete lockdown. It is no wonder many people are feeling stress and anxiety.
Public health workers are being shunned and insulted by others; businesses are falling apart due to the lack of patronization. Families are always faced with increasing challenges to support their daily needs as many find themselves jobless. With the mandatory requirement to work from home, many employees find themselves feeling isolated and lonely with the lack of social interaction.
Learning to cope with stress and anxiety healthily makes it more important during this period. When you can reduce your negative emotions, you will start seeing the other side of the situation. The people whom you care about and those around you can become more resilient as well. Dealing with stress and anxiety does not have to be a solo journey with support from friends and family.
To reduce stress and anxiety from affecting your health, life, and wellbeing, you first need to identify what stress is. According to the mental health organization, ‘stress is the feeling of being under abnormal pressure.’
Some of the signs and symptoms include:
– Constantly feeling worried or anxious
– Losing focus
– Easily irritated or having a short temper
– Mood Swings
– Feeling overwhelmed
– Loss in appetite or overeating
– Using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relax
– Loss of sleep
Regardless of age or religion, every one of us will experience at least one (more for me) of these signs and symptoms. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and you are not having a mental disorder. It is just part of life and learning how to deal with your stress and anxiety levels is what you need for positive wellbeing.
Practice deep breathing exercises
These exercises can be done anytime and anywhere. All you need is to make sure you are breathing right. When you breathe deeply, you are sending a message to your brain and the rest of the body to calm down and relax. Many breathing exercises can help you to cope with your stress and anxiety.
One breathing exercise that helped me the most was the 4-7-8 breathing. I do this breathing exercise in the morning before I get out of bed. I must start my day right or I will be having my zombie apocalypse, or I’ll be a walking volcano.
Here is how the 4-7-8 breathing is done:
1. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
2. Take a deep, slow breath from your belly and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
3. Hold your breath and silently count to 7.
4. Breathe out completely as you silently count to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you reach 8.
5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you feel calm.
Physical activity pumps up your endorphins and improves blood flowing to your brain and the rest of the body.
Exercising can be as simple as taking a walk and getting the fresh air.
It does not have to be an intense 30 minutes HIIT workout at the gym but if that’s just what you need, go for it. Yoga and meditation are effective ways to relax your mind and body.
In my honest words, I am a gym rat who finds lifting weights my destressing style. But did you know that retail therapy is a form of walking as well? You can thank me later.
Eat healthy and balanced meals
Exercising plays a big role in reducing your stress and anxiety levels, but a well-balanced meal aids in managing and relieving those stress and anxiety vibes too. The nutrients from healthy foods can significantly improve blood flow in the body.
Due to our busy schedules, eating healthily many times end up becoming overlooked. In addition, many people tend to have a misconception that healthy eating is hard to prepare and only involves green veggies.
Nutritious food includes food with omega -3 such as salmon and tuna, nuts, fruits, and high fiber cereals. Imagine my ecstasy when I find out that dark chocolate and red wine is one happy food.
Aromatherapy helps reduce stress and anxiety
There are lots of essential oils with multiple benefits that target different needs. Many of these essential oils help to relieve stress, aids in relaxation, and helps you be present in the moment.
Besides using essential oils, diffusers and scented candles have similar benefits. Scents such as white tea, chamomile, and sandalwood are more highly preferred thanks to their soothing fragrances.
Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts helps you to reflect and regulate your emotions. Not many are comfortable sharing their private moments even with their partners, and the journal is there to help you get those thoughts out.
Sometimes, when you are writing down your thoughts, you might have a moment whereby the solution just hits you right on the spot. Or you might realize that the negative situation turned out to be a minor issue.
Colouring and Creating Artwork
It might seem silly to be doing a kid’s work, but coloring is a great therapy to feel calmer, mentally relaxed, and more energetic.
Colouring books for adults have been gaining popularity, and coloring enthusiasts agree that their worries fade away along with the colors.
Coloring not only improves your mood and relieves those stress and anxiety emotions, but it can also boost your creativity. You are in control when you color – deciding the colors and shadings of the picture.
Take a break and do what you like
Speaking from a mom’s point of view, it is difficult to do what you like.
Kids, work, household chores have taken over your life, and taking a break seems to be on another island. But, if you want to feel sane and have the energy to carry on your day positively, taking a break is vital.
Have an afternoon cup of coffee while the kids are doing their homework, or snack together with the kids. Fun activities make everyone happy and enjoyable, allowing you to feel your best. If you are waiting for the kids to finish their football training, chill out at a café or the park with a muffin and people watch.
Doing nothing sometimes can be the best medicine too.
Hug someone important to you
Physical touch increases your dopamine and serotonin levels, two neurotransmitters involved in relieving stress and anxiety. Oxytocin or the “cuddle” hormone is released when you hug someone. This neurotransmitter increases your level of happiness and reduces your blood pressure. Therefore, everyone needs a hug now and then, whether it is from a close friend or a loved one, or even from a pet!
Getting a hug from my kids and hugging my pets puts me in my happy place. So, whenever you are feeling down, do not feel shy to ask for a hug from your important person (or pet). It is one of the simplest stress relievers ever thought of.
When faced with a stressful situation…
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you feel your stress and anxiety levels rising too high. We are the worst critics of ourselves more often than not.
When you find yourself in an undesirable situation, first look at what is the cause of the worry. Be true to yourself and avoid any judgemental thoughts. Write out the situation so that it gives you a clearer picture of what is going on.
Draw a mind map if you need to. When you see the overall picture, it is easier for you to assess the problem and figure out if there is a need for action.
Tackle the part of the problem that you know you can handle. It is fine to leave the rest of the solutions to someone else. It does not make you look weak or incompetent. On the contrary, you are protecting yourself from landing into another stressful problem.
Once you have done all you can, pat yourself on the back and move on. Do not dwell on the unseen possibilities and be proud of yourself that you have solved a problem. Move ahead as many other problems are awaiting your solutions.
Finding the best stress and anxiety relief strategies might take some time and experimenting. Some work well for others but not so much for you. As long as you are taking care of yourself, relaxing, and resting when needed, know that you are doing enough for yourself.
What are your coping strategies to reduce stress and anxiety? Share with me your wellbeing tips!
In the meantime, don’t forget to like and follow Modern Mom Life for more wellbeing tips. Until next time!