How to reduce stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a part of modern life and there is no way to avoid it. It therefore pays to know how to reduce stress and anxiety in order to function as well as possible without buckling under the strain. Once you know how to manage stress it becomes a lot easier to live with. Here are fantastic ways to alleviate stress and enjoy a more carefree existence
Exercise has proven time and time again to reduce the effects of stress. The psychological benefits of exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
2) Maintain a sense of humour. Laugh lots
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress and anxiety. Nothing works faster lighten the load and help you feel more lighthearted. Humour lightens your load, inspires hope, connects you to others and keeps you grounded. Laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body and allows the body to release hormones known as endorphins that promote an overall sense of physical and emotional wellbeing. Laugh every day and stress will be minimised.
3) Watch your thinking
Thoughts lead to emotions which in turn lead to behaviour. When you monitor your thinking, you alter the associated emotions and behaviour. Think thoughts that work for you and you will automatically reduce stress and anxiety. We all have a tendency to work ourselves up by worrying and thinking of the worst possible scenario. This only adds to stress. Ensure that you challenge your thinking regularly. Ask yourself where the evidence is – just because you feel a certain way does not mean that it is real.
4) Take time out – balance in life is essential
All work and no play leads to a life that is out of kilter. A lopsided life will inevitably lead to stress and anxiety. It’s important to maintain a balance and keep your eye on the bigger picture. I often remind my clients that there is only one of them yet the company that they work for will still carry on. People feel such loyalty to almost kill themselves for their employers. There is a lack of balance and perspective and it is often only once physical health problems kick in that people sit and take notice. Take preventative measures and introduce balance into your life before your health is affected.
5) Express yourself. Be assertive
When you stifle your needs and allow others to take over, this suppression can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Learn to say “no” and stop pleasing others. The more you stand up for yourself the easier it is to keep stress and anxiety in check.
6) Maintain Perspective
Stop catastrophizing. When we are stressed we tend to exaggerate the possible consequences of our situations which only makes stress and anxiety worse. Try to detach from the situation by asking yourself whether this current problem will still matter six months from now. Sometimes it helps to imagine yourself on a balcony looking down on yourself. From this detached position it is often easier to maintain perspective and remove yourself emotionally from the situation. Once you have detached, it is easier to think clearly and reduce stress and anxiety effectively.
7) Stop trying to please others
If you live your life for others, you ignore your own needs at your own peril. It is never a good idea to put other people’s needs constantly ahead of your own. This can lead to resentment and inner tension. It’s almost as if an inner toxin develops when we do not honour our own needs. This does not mean you have to be selfish but when we try to be martyrs for too long this inevitably ends up being counterproductive.
8) Follow your own path
In order to be truly happy, it is important to know what it is that gives you that pleasant buzz. That feeling when time flies and you feel alive. Make time for those activities in life that inspire you and fill you with positive energy. Energy awareness is vital in managing stress levels. When we spend time with emotional vampires, they suck positive energy out of us. Limit your time with these people and be aware of where you get your positive energy. Fill up those coffers!
9) Love what you do
Quality of life is important if you want to reduce stress and anxiety. Common sense suggests that if you spend a large amount of your life doing things you really don’t enjoy, this will influence your mood and increase your stress levels. As far as possible, engineer a life that is full of activities that you love. Find your passion and incorporate it into your life as much as possible. Watch your self limiting beliefs and believe that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
10) Be selective about the news you watch or listen to
We are receptive beings and we are constantly influenced by our surroundings. Be aware of your environment and what you are exposing yourself to in terms of positive and negative energy. Often, the news can be a source of negative energy and can lead to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Of course, it is a good thing to be informed about the world but be aware of the effect this has on you and if you find that you are easily influenced by others and your surroundings, limit your time watching informative programmes of a negative nature.
It is a good idea to figure out what works for you and have an anti stress strategy. Whether that’s regular exercise, achieving more of a work/leisure balance or making time to follow your passion, it’s vital to prepare a system that you can call upon when you feel frazzled. Energy awareness is key in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Limit negative energy sources (difficult people, negative media stories etc) and increase positive energy sources (fun music, inspirational people, exercise etc) to maintain a relatively stress and anxiety free life.