5 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress and Stop Anxiety

Like a monster from under the bed, stress and/or anxiety is stealing the peaceful nighttime Zzzzzs of billions of people. Anxiety may also be sabotaging your confidence, turning your stomach into knots, and impacting your general wellbeing.

1. Remember: This Too Shall Pass

Laundry is piling up, the baby has a fever, and your boss wanted that report yesterday. Sound familiar? No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress and too much of it can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety (learn more signs of anxiety). Although it’s uncomfortable, the negative feelings WILL PASS. Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body’s natural relaxation response.

2. Learn How to Self-Soothe

Imagine walking down a nature path only to be greeted by a snarling grizzly bear — or worse, your boss demanding that report. When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This natural survival mechanism — called the fight or flight response — is intended to help us to escape a true, life threatening emergency. However, when the threat is imagined (e.g., I’m going to bomb this presentation and everyone will know I’m a fraud), the fight/flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable.Self soothing techniques that reduce the stress response:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is by decreasing the heart rate. Since we can’t voluntarily alter our pulse, more tangible measures are needed. Luckily, a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.

Positive Self-talk

If a small child told you he was nervous about going to school the next day, what would you say? Unless you’re an abusive lunatic, phrases like “you’re such a dumb little kid” or “you should be nervous because no one will like you” would never leave your mouth. This is because we intuitively know how to help others combat stress sometimes better than ourselves. To increase emotional comfort, it’s imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self-talk. When anxious, practice self-talk phrases such as:

“This feeling will pass.”

“I will get through this.”

“I am safe right now.”

“I am feeling anxious now, but I have the power make myself calm.”

“I can feel my heart rate slowing down.”

Muscle Relaxation

Stress causes our muscles to tighten and become tense. To increase a relaxed state and physical comfort, tighten and release muscles beginning with the largest muscle group.

3. Check Your Diet

What we eat and drink largely impacts our emotional state. Foods most associated with exacerbating anxiety are ones containing caffeine and alcohol. Even consumed in small amounts, studies have found that the stimulating effects of caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability. Caffeine — commonly found in coffee, colas, tea, and chocolate — also causes physical symptoms such as trembling and shaking.

Abruptly eliminating caffeine from the diet can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, restlessness, and irritability so it’s important to decrease caffeine consumption gradually. Similarly, although alcohol is often consumed to “take the edge off” it dehydrates the body and ultimately increases anxiety.

An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can also cause many symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. Researchers at McMaster University found evidence that the balance of bacteria in your gut may have more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.

4. Get Moving

Most of us know that exercise is good for our physical health. Maintaining a regular (healthy, non-obsessive) exercise routine has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels. During exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain to causing euphoric feelings and reduction in physical pain.

5. Get More Sleep

Nearly everyone feels a little crabby after a rough night’s sleep. Disrupted sleep is common in many emotional disorders and it’s difficult to know which started first — stress or poor sleep. A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion.

How to get a Good Nights Sleep

Sleep is something we all need in order to properly repair our bodies and keep our minds sharp. Although everybody’s different, the average sleep required to become fully recharged is between 7.5 and 8 hours a night.

A lack of sleep can take a serious toll on our bodies and has been known to cause many health related issues such as an increased risk of heart disease, and depressive disorders. Through research and study I have discovered many proven methods of natural sleep aid.

The following is a list of my 10 favorite ways you can enhance your sleeping experience.

1) Exercise

If you don’t exercise you will not release the built up toxins and tensions locked within your body. Vigorous exercise will help to induce a deeper sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning. However, try not to work out too close to your bedtime as it can actually contribute to a sleepless night.

2) Cut Out The Caffeine & Sugar 

No, I’m not telling you to completely give up these two uppers, just try not to consume them after early afternoon. Coffee is a powerful stimulant that can influence your internal system for many hours after consumed, causing sleeplessness. Sugar causes a spike in blood sugar that when consumed near bedtime can cause insomnia.

3) Don’t Drink Alcohol Near Bedtime

Although alcohol can sometimes help to induce sleep, studies have shown that the second half of sleep can become more disrupted causing you to toss and turn. The result is waking up not feeling as refreshed as you would have had you opted for a glass of water instead. This can lead to daytime drowsiness that can affect your memory and sociability. Car accidents are also more likely to occur.

4) Turn Off All Electrical Stimulants

Many of us have become accustomed to surfing the internet well into the latter hours of the evening, then fall asleep watching t.v. You should turn off all electronics and dim the lights about an hour before your desired bedtime to help induce sleep. Try snuggling up to a good book under the covers and see how much easier it is to enter dreamland.

5) Natural Herbal Remedies

There are many natural herbs that can help you fall asleep 🙂 The two most commonly used are Valerian and Chamomile. Valerian has long been used as a treatment for insomnia. The only drawback is that it needs to be taken on a regular basis and takes about two weeks to start working. It is usually taken orally about an hour before bedtime. Chamomile unlike Valerian doesn’t need to be taken on a regular basis to be affective. It is most commonly made into a tea and consumed about an hour before bedtime. Both of these herbs can be found at your local health-food store.

6) Meditation

Meditation can be one of the best ways to help you clear your mind and relax your body. Although there are many different styles of meditation, I suggest to simply start by closing your eyes and envisioning all your muscles relaxing while breathing steadily in and out. If you’re having racing thoughts wile trying to sleep envision a stop sign in your head. This will help put a halt to all that annoying activity.

7) Feng Shui

There are many ways to incorporate Feng Shui into your bedroom to help with sleep. Wall color, the direction of your bed, and the absents of electronic stimulants and paperwork are just some of the ways Feng Shui is used to help aid in a restful nights sleep.

8) Music

Calm music can be a great way to help introduce yourself to sleep. There are many relaxation c.d.’s available online that can help you get your Z’s. Some people prefer sounds of nature like the sound of a rippling ocean, while others prefer a more synthetic sound such as octave waves.

9) Sex

Simply put, men and women produce hormones during an orgasm which causes us to fall into a very relaxed state of consciousness. We get added pleasure by closing our eyes while wallowing in the after affect which often leads to sleep.

10) Melatonin

 Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland from the amino acid tryptophan. Synthetic melatonin is readily available and has been widely used to help with many types of sleeping disorders such as insomnia.