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.

20 Tips to Tame Your Stress

Stress hits us all in life, and while a little stress is good — it keeps us focused and motivated — too much of it and it can grind our lives to a complete halt. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out, you may become paralyzed and unable to do much of anything.

Just as bad are unhealthy coping methods to deal with stress. Turning to food, alcohol or drugs often just turns one set of problems into another that can balloon out of control. It’s better to avoid those unhealthy coping mechanisms from the start, and find good ways to keep your stress under control.

There are many ways to tame your stress and keep it at bay. Here are 20 tips to tame your stress today, and keep the stress monsters at bay.

1. Perform diaphragmatic or “deep breathing” exercises.

2. Lie face down on the floor and begin breathing deeply and slowly, with your hands resting under your face. Do this for five minutes.

3. Sit in a reclining chair. Put a hand on your abdomen and a hand on your chest. As you breathe, make sure the hand on your abdomen is moving up and down rather than one on your chest. If the hand on your abdomen is moving you are breathing deeply and slowly.

4. Try progressive muscle relaxation or “deep muscle” relaxation. Progressively tense and relax each muscle group in your body. Learn the difference between muscle tension and relaxation.

5. Meditate. Use visualization or guided imagery to help you learn to be one with your thoughts. Sit quietly with your eyes closed, imagining the sights, sounds and smells of your favorite place, such as a beach or mountain retreat.

6. Exercise regularly or take up yoga.

7. Consult a psychologist about the use of biofeedback.

8. Make time for music, art or other hobbies that help relax and distract you.

9. Learn to identify and monitor stressors. Come up with an organized plan for handling stressful situations. Be careful not to overgeneralize negative reactions to things.

10. Make a list of the important things you need to handle each day. Try to follow the list so you feel organized and on top of things. Put together a coping plan step by step so you have a sense of mastery.

11. Keep an eye on things that might suggest you’re not coping well. For example, are you smoking or drinking more, or sleeping less?

12. Keep a list of the large and little hassles in your day versus the major stressful events in your life. This helps you focus on the fact that you’re keeping track of and managing those as well as you can.

13. Set aside a time every day to work on relaxation.

14. Avoid using caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, junk food, binge eating and other drugs as your primary means for coping with stress. While they can be helpful once in awhile, using them as your only or usual method will result in longer-term problems, such as weight problems or alcoholism.

15. Learn to just say, “No” occasionally. It won’t hurt other people’s feelings as much as you think and is simply a method to be more assertive in your own life, to better help you meet your own needs.

16. Get the right amount of sleep. For most people, this is seven to nine hours a night.

17. Cultivate a sense of humor; laugh.

18. Research has shown that having a close, confiding relationship protects you from many stresses.

19. Don’t run from your problems! This only makes them worse.

20. Talk to your family and friends. See if they can help.

If these tips don’t help, or you’ve tried a lot of them with little luck in better taming the stress in your life, it may be time to consider taking it up a notch. A mental health professional — such as a psychologist — can help teach you more effective methods for handling stress in a healthy way in your life. Such psychotherapy is short-term and time-limited, with a focus on helping you better deal with stress.

Remember — we do have control over the stress and choices we make in our lives. It sometimes takes a little practice and effort to put some of these techniques into play in your life. But once you do so, you may be pleasantly surprised at the positive benefits you’ll receive.

11 Great ways to relieve stress…

In our lives today, we often find ourselves so busy taking care of the home, the children, our businesses, our social life, our children’s social life, our bills and just life in general that we often forget to take care of ourselves. With us wearing so many hats in life, we often find ourselves stressed and worn out.

But there are remedies for this.  For me personally, I find that by making myself indulge in at least one of the following during my week, I am much happier and a lot less stressed.

 I find myself enjoying this “My Time” but I also sometimes try to get my family involved so that we all can lead a more stress free life.  

1.) Try to live Simply

2.) Take a nice long scenic walk, perhaps the beach or the lake.  (Even invite a friend)

3.) Put on your favorite music, turn it up loud and dance

4.) Light up your electric simmering (aroma) pot with a softly scented aroma.  This allows your senses to relax, thus allowing you to relax.  Then curl up on the sofa with a good book

5.) Sink into your tub for a long, luxurious soak at the end of the day.  Light a few nicely scented candles, turn off the lights and let the glow and scent of the candle relax your mind, body and soul.

6.) Splurge just a little and go in for a professional massage at your local day spa

7.) Go have a manicure and pedicure done.  (And I truly suggest the Spa Pedicure – ohh la la!)

8.) How about your favorite movie?  You know the one that just made you laugh, cry and smile.

9.) Another great idea is your local Coffee Stop.  This is especially nice if it has a book store inside.  Grab a cup of coffee or cappuccino and a magazine and just relax with the latest Hollywood gossip or a wonderful romance book

10.)  Got a best or very dear friend you haven’t talked to in awhile?  Pick up the phone and call her and reconnect.

11) The number one Stress Reliever:  Take a Vacation!!!