Tips for Coping with Stress and Anxiety
How can I cope with stress more effectively?
Getting familiar with the strategies and tactics for coping with stress and anxiety in today’s world, is a step in the right direction with respect to maintaining one’s mental health and wellbeing. Sure we can become susceptible to the emotional turmoil it creates but having a few tricks and tips up one’s sleeve may prevent an impending break down.
We have all heard that stress is a killer, yet far too many of us do not understand the scientific relevance of this statement. People coping with stress and anxiety need to employ coping mechanisms that work on a personal level. This is done by identifying the true stressor though there may be many other contributing factors.
It may surprise you to know that how we deal with stress often is due to the state of our hormones. Fluctuating stress levels that have become chronic and hormones that are in a state of imbalance have the potential to affect the body. By being educated, you stand to become better equipped regardless of the cause.
Stress Relief Hacks
Tips for Coping with Stress Effectively
- Rest, Relax and Restore
One of the best strategies for coping with stress more effectively is by allowing your body a chance to rest, relax and restore. Regardless of how many responsibilities you have, it is essential to know when to take that needed break.
In life, as we know it today, chronic stress is both a familiar contributor to one’s day and one that has grave consequences. The result of chronic stress is that far too much cortisol is being released into the body. Cortisol contributes to the body experiencing “fight or flight” when there is traffic, when the phone rings, when the boss leaves a stack of papers on your desk. Without adequate rest and regenerative sleep, to both mind and body suffer.
Sleep loss is one of the worst activators of the stress response. Emotions become poorly regulated, and the ability to cope with stress (even that which is mild) is significantly reduced. Obtaining relaxation only takes a few moments, but you must be willing to accept it into your health regime. This means a willingness to stop thinking about what needs to be done. A mentality of “be” not “do” must be implemented for calm to occur.
- Avoid Unnecessary Stimulants – Coffee, Soda, Cigarettes and Blue light from devices
It goes without saying that to Rest, Relax and Restore, one must refrain from unnecessary stimulants, particularly later in the day. You are to avoid stimulants like coffee, soda, cigarettes, blue light emitted of devices alongside drugs that stimulate the nervous system.
Understandably it is clear caffeine is a major player in the productivity of the business world. It’s no surprise, coffee is served almost everywhere – even at bookstores. Keeping oneself regulated, however, is an important tip in helping you keep your cool next time stress hits.
To obtain sleep that is restorative and regenerative, it is essential to observe the circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle and the hormones that govern our sleep regulation. When stimulants such as coffee, soda and cigarettes are consumed later in the afternoon there is an increased risk of disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Observing good sleep hygiene and ensuring you get a good night’s rest enables the stressed out individual to be more resilient.
- Ask for help. Seek Support if you are not Coping with Stress
If you know that you have been working too hard, understand that you are not invincible and have needs that are not being met. Perhaps it is time to enlist in getting some help.
Family and friends are usually quite aware of your need for help and will make themselves available at your request. There is no loss of pride in asking for help and in most cases, you are providing a way of enriching the relationship.
- Physical Exercise Reduces Stress Hormones (Adrenaline and Cortisol)
Exercise is necessary to keep the body and brain healthy. Often physical activity is suggested by your primary physician to buffer the impact of stress. Those reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression no doubt will have heard this advice, though it may have been fallen on deaf ears.
Exercise boosts one’s mood and helps one cope with stress much more efficiently. It is free and natural and does not have to take much time to implement. Starting slowly is always suggested. Exercise assists in the detoxification process whereby increased sweat releases harmful toxins from the body.
Exercise reduces the level of known stress hormones within the body, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise also stimulates endorphin production. Endorphins are the body’s natural anti-depressants. Exercising can increase your sense of self-worth and feelings of being attractive. As one’s fat shrinks and muscle tone improves, the visual reward becomes apparent. Energy levels rise and the desire to live a healthy, balanced life results in goal achievement minus the stress.
- Healthy Eating. Detoxification.
Detoxification is a must if you are serious about curbing the effects of stress. This goes back to the point made in limiting access to unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking and caffeinated products.
Observing hsealthy diet and nutrition choices means understanding where saboteurs present in your food and beverages are lurking. We all have days where cravings take a hold of us. We indulge in something sweet, salty or “carbolicious”. Moderation is key.
To eat healthily, take note of your shopping habits. Learn how to shop for nutritionally balanced ingredients. Learn about the difference between organic versus store bought, mass-marketed vegies and fruit. Avoid processed foods and those you can purchase from a fast food chain. These mostly contain harmful trans fats, which are never a healthy option.
6. Acupuncture – Shown to reduce a key stress hormone.
Acupuncture is another alternative treatment in helping patients cope with stress. Many are of the belief that it has the potential to detoxify and calm both the body and the mind. An Eastern medicine, used for hundreds of years, acupuncture provides relief for many patients and their varied conditions.
Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Centre investigated the effect of electronic acupuncture stimulation on rats to determine any therapeutic result. They concluded that this, in fact, reduced a key stress hormone. Researchers observed the presence of a peptide called NPY. NPY is released in humans and rodents during a“flight or fight response”. “We found that electronic acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway,” Eshkevari said. “Our growing body of evidence points to acupuncture’s protective effect against the stress response.”
Pioneered in the United States by the Harvard physician Herbert Benson, “Relaxation Response” is a technique aimed at stress reduction. When stress is sudden, our bodies respond by design with the “fight or flight” response. The “adrenaline rush” for which it is also referred to is a result of the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine being released from the adrenal glands.
Setting the stage for relaxation, the relaxation response works in the opposite way to “fight or flight”. Outside distraction must be shut out entirely for this stress management technique to work efficiently.
Controlled breathing slows down the pulse rate and lowers blood pressure once this meditative state is obtained. For most people who have been suffering from the plight of chronic stress, it may take time for them to get comfortable with sitting still. The great thing about meditation is that through practice the process of getting still and obtaining peace will improve.
8. Counselling or Therapy
Counselling or therapy is not reserved for “crazy people”. Traditionalists often feel that their problems are those that they alone should deal with. They believe in keeping their issues private or believe that therapy means a loss of control in one’s life.
Most people benefit significantly from a counselling session, because at the end of the day sometimes all we need is a person to talk to. Life is not always comfortable. There are challenges we are met with on a daily basis.
We carry the burden of multiple roles, and cannot control everything that is demanding our attention. By sharing problems, even just with close friends and family, you can obtain the necessary insight needed for coping with life and life’s stressors. Communication is a powerful tool in personal development and used the right way can also improve relationships between peers.
Sensory people have an affinity for scented oils whether they are heated with an oil burner or distributed into the air via candle. As their home is filled with the therapeutic scent, calm and relaxation are delivered through the power of aromatherapy.
One’s ability to cope with stress is often improved just by the use of these products. Be sure to choose a scent that is known for its ability to alleviate tension such as lavender or ylang-ylang if stress reduction is your desire. Do ensure that these fragrances are also appreciated by those you live with, as for some aromas may be offensive.
10. Make time for Play
Most people know when they are not living a balanced life. Usually, if you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, you have been working too much. Make time for play. One of the best tips for coping with stress more effectively is by addressing the imbalance. Get out and about and socialise with friends who make you feel good about yourself and respect you. This is extremely important.
If this is not obtainable with the friends you have, then perhaps just having some downtime is in order. Maybe you are a musician that would love to spend time learning a new melody. Dancing and Singing. Getting creative. Playing with the kids outdoors. Loosen up the reigns and schedule in some playtime. Yes, you deserve it. Play to keep the stress response at bay.
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- Schroeder, S., Burnis, J., Denton, A., Krasnow, A., Raghu, T., & Mathis, K. (2017). Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapy on Stress in a Large Urban College Population. Journal Of Acupuncture And Meridian Studies, 10(3), 165-170. doi:10.1016/j.jams.2017.01.002
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- Choi, S., & Kim, G. (2018). Acupuncture for anxiety. Medicine, 97(14), e0266. doi:10.1097/md.0000000000010266
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