Strategies to help YOU Manage YOUR Stress and Anxiety
These are the top 10 strategies that I teach in my Counselling sessions and also use in my everyday life for myself and my children to help manage stress and anxiety.
These are only some of the strategies that can be used and some will suit your needs now and others, maybe not till later. All of these strategies do work for different people, for different reasons, at different stages, but, they must be practised and integrated into our everyday lives. You cannot tell a person midway through a panic attack to “breathe” or to “think positively”. We must practise strategies like these every single day so as to regulate our mind, body and spirit and manage our stress and anxiety so that it does not end up managing us.
It is equally important to have a few strategies to work with, that can work both before and during times of stress. eg: You cannot really break into a yoga routine in the middle of an exam but you can practise your breathing.
(I Must mention that it is important to first identify what makes us anxious, the events or thoughts themselves and then how and where we feel these in the body. This will help to identify which strategies may be the most suitable).
1. Breathing Exercises
When we become anxious we tend to shallow breathe, our heart rate increases and we breathe rapidly filling our bodies with CO2 and depriving it of valuable, calming oxygen. Breathing correctly helps to purify the blood, provide more energy, and calms the mind and the body.
2. Aerobic Exercise and Yoga
Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms, tires your muscles, reduces excess energy and tension, releases endorphins which can improve your overall mood and exercise and yoga forces healthier breathing.
3. Change (reframe) your Negative Thinking
- Stop using words like “should” and “would”. Change these to “I can” and “I will”.
- Stop the “What if’s”? Worrying about things that may not even happen can cause your anxiety to spiral out of control. Try mindfulness techniques and live in the moment. Plan your day/week out in blocks of time rather than the whole day/week in advance.
- Cut yourself some ‘slack” when things do not go as planned. Learn from the experience and reframe it by using reassuring statements like “next time I can try ………….” and then drop it, don’t dwell on it.
- Think in the positive and in the present.
Meditation allows you to live in the moment, to calm yourself, to regulate your breathing, to help visualise your successes and to help you focus your attention on the “good” in your life. Meditation has proven successful in helping the individual manage, prevent and cope with a range of mental and physical health problems including stress and anxiety.
There are many different types of meditation including Mindfulness Meditation, Guided Meditation and even Mandala Colouring.
5. Use your common “senses”
- Touch: Fidget toys, stress balls, massage, Hand Mudras, reflexology, Acupressure Points.
- Smell: Essential oils like Lavender for its calming effect.
- Sight: Watch a favourite movie, sit at the beach and look at the waves, go for a walk at your favourite place, make a Vision Board outlining short-term, achievable positive goals and plans.
- Sound: Listen to uplifting music. The urge will be to listen to sad or depressing music to match your mood but avoid this and listen to music that will help lift your mood instead.
- Taste: Have that bit of “soul food” (eg: chocolate but in moderation) chew gum. Cook your favourite meal and invoke all of the senses.
6. Let it Go
The more you try to fight it the worse it can get so sometimes it is just better to “let it go”
- Journaling: Writing it all down and then burning/destroying it can be quite liberating.
- Talking it out: Talking to someone who you know will not judge or reprimand like a parent, another adult, friend, Counsellor etc.
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise to burn off tension and release those endorphins.
- Hit something: Pillow or boxing bag (not people or walls 🙂 )
- Yell: Yell into your pillow or bean bag, put the music on and scream out those lyrics at the top of your lungs. (exercise that throat chakra)
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. (definition from www.Reiki.org)
8. Practise Gratitude
Gratitude helps us to put our everyday occurrences into perspective. When we only concentrate on the negative, we tend to complain, get more anxious and stay “stuck” in the moment. Practising gratitude helps us to realise what we have. It can help reduce stress and it generally makes us happier. A Gratitude Journal is a great tool to have. Jot down daily something you are grateful for and watch your overall positivity increase.
9. Australian Bush Flower Essences
A variety of natural Australian Bush Flower Essence blends to help with a wide range of anxiety symptoms including improving sleep patterns, separation anxiety, speaking in public, general fear and worry, sharing and hypervigilance just to name a few.
10. Do whatever helps you to relax
Read a book, take a bath or go for a walk. Do these activities as well as use other strategies listed here to help prevent and manage your anxiety before you become overwhelmed. If you have to schedule these into your diary or planner, then do so.
© copyright. May not be reproduced without acknowledgement to the author. Written by Kim Norton 16th July 2018.