Spend Time With Your Pet
Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood.
When you cuddle or touch your pet, your body releases oxytocin a hormone thats linked to positive mood .
Plus, studies show that pet owners especially those who have dogs tend to have greater life satisfaction, better self-esteem, reduced levels of loneliness and anxiety, and more positive moods .
Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active, and providing companionship.
Although stress is an unavoidable part of life, being chronically stressed takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
Fortunately, several evidence-based strategies can help you reduce stress and improve your overall psychological well-being.
Exercise, mindfulness, spending time with a pet, minimizing screen time, and getting outside more often are all effective methods.
Understanding Anxiety And Insomnia
Whats behind the more stress, less sleep connection? If youre frequently triggering your stress response, your body never gets back to its baseline, says Johns Hopkins sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.
Stress and sleepless nights are closely linked, Buenaver says. If youre in pain, tend to worry, or are coping with a difficult situation in your life, you may have more stress hormones than usual circulating in your body. A poor nights sleep adds even more. And those hormones may never be fully broken down. Its like running an engine in fifth gear all the time.
Stress And Anxiety Relief: 10 Strategies That Can Help
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life. Sometimes they can even be a good thing. They can inspire you to take action and do your best when it really matters.
The problem is when feelings of stress and anxiety get out of control. Then these feelings cannot only impair your performancethey can also make you sick. Chronic stress can have a number of serious health consequences including decreased immunity, decreased longevity, and a higher risk for anxiety disorders.
Stress is a response to a potential threat, while anxiety is the reaction to that stress. Unfortunately, both are incredibly common among U.S. adults and evidence suggests that recent world events have made the problem worse for many people. Nearly 8 in 10 adults report increased stress levels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While you cant avoid all of the stress in your life, there are stress and anxiety relief strategies that can help you cope more effectively. This article discusses some self-help techniques that can help you get a handle on stress and anxiety. It also covers when to consider talking to a professional.
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When To See Your Gp About Your Stress Levels
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
Talk Yourself Through It
Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. If this is the case, talking calmly to yourself can be the next best thing.
Dont worry about seeming crazy just tell yourself why youre stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be okay.
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Effect Of Relaxation Techniques On Anxiety
Manzoni, Pagnini, Castelnuovo, and Molinari published a meta-analysis looking at the efficacy of different relaxation techniques at reducing anxiety. Typically, relaxation techniques are used to thwart how we feel and think when we find ourselves in an anxiety-inducing situation.
The meta-analysis included the following techniques:
- Autogenic training
- Applied relaxation
- Other techniques
Overall, the authors found that relaxation techniques were effective in reducing feelings of anxiety. This positive effect was found in studies that included a control group as a comparison and studies where participants were compared to their own baseline of anxiety before using the technique .
The efficacy ranking of the different techniques differed depending on the type of study design however, the authors tentatively recommend that meditation, applied relaxation, and progressive relaxation are the best strategies to adopt. These strategies are described later in this post.
These results have been confirmed in other meta-analyses. Specifically, meditation has a positive effect of reducing anxiety in patients with cardiovascular illness and cancer .
What Should I Do If I Cant Relax
Sometimes, it can be very hard to calm down, but rest assured that its never impossible. Even the most panicked feelings eventually end.
When youre struggling to relax, its a good idea to change your environment. Go for a walk around the block, around the office, or even around your apartment. It can really help to get your body moving and change your surroundings.
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Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
Talk To Someone You Trust About How You’re Feeling
Just talking to someone about how youre feeling can take a weight off your shoulders. Make sure you trust the person, work out what you want to say to them, and then just go for it. If youre finding it tricky, weve got four more steps for talking to someone you trust here.
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How Can I Relax Fast
If youre feeling very stressed or panicked and need to calm down quickly, we recommend progressive muscle relaxation. Its proven to lower your heart rate, helping you to feel more at peace.
To do progressive muscle relaxation, begin by tensing the muscles in your forehead and then releasing them. Do this with each muscle group all the way down to your toes.
If you prefer to do something different, you can also try breathing exercises to calm down quickly. Even taking a couple of long, deep breaths is enough to slow your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed in the present moment.
You can also try a quick meditation to regain your sense of calm. We recommend this five-minute session to help you chill out.
How To Overcome Fear And Anxiety These 7 Steps Can Help
The saying goes the only thing we have to fear is fear itself but theres a lot of scary things out there. Knowing how to overcome fear and anxiety is crucial. While managing our fear and anxiety well and knowing the difference between the two is important to our mental health and career success.
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How To Tell Whether Youre Experiencing Stress Or Anxiety
Not sure whether stress or anxiety is behind your symptoms?
Take a step back and think of whats going on in your life right now. What kinds of things do you tend to worry about? Are they specific threats or events?
Consider car troubles. Maybe you know you really need new tires, especially now that its starting to snow. But you cant afford to replace them just yet.
For the next few weeks, you feel uneasy about driving. What if you slide on a patch of ice? What if you get a flat on your way home from a late-night shift on that stretch of road with lousy reception?
A few weeks later, you have a fresh set of tires and stop worrying about driving to and from work safely. In this case, your nervousness was due to stress, triggered by having old tires.
But maybe you get new tires and dont really notice a change in your symptoms. Youre still nervous about driving and feel a vague sense of unease that you cant quite put your finger on. Or, your tires were never an issue in the first place, but you can shake an overall feeling of nervousness about getting on the road. That would be anxiety.
If you can tie your feelings back to a specific trigger, theyre likely the result of stress. But if the exact cause isnt clear, or your symptoms stick around after the initial trigger goes away, it may be anxiety.
Stress typically happens in response to physical or mental pressure. This pressure might involve a big life change, like:
Controlling Anxiety Takes Time
Theres no quick fix for anxiety, and it may often feel like an uphill struggle. But by gaining awareness of what causes your symptoms, and getting help from your doctor, you can manage your symptoms.
You may find some of these hacks work for you straight away and others may have no effect at all, but the important thing is to keep trying.
Giving in to feelings of anxiety by retreating from the world only served to make my life more difficult in the long run. Continuing to search for solutions that work for me has been key to my recovery. Practice makes perfect, so dont stop trying to find ways that work for you.
Fiona Thomas is a lifestyle and mental health writer who lives with depression and anxiety. Visit her website or connect with her on .
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Physical Activity And Exercise
There is also evidence that physical activity, such as exercise, can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Jayakody, Gunadasa, and Hosker report that exercise does reduce symptoms of anxiety but is most effective when combined with antidepressant medication, meditation therapy, and/or lifestyle changes.
Subsequent studies have also found a positive effect of exercise on anxiety in nonclinical populations however, the relationship between exercise and anxiety reported by clinical populations is less clear .
Acute Versus Chronic Stress
The experience of stress can be either acute or chronic. Acute stress usually occurs in response to a short-term stressor, like a car accident or an argument with your spouse. Acute stress can be very distressing, but it passes quickly and typically responds well to coping techniques like calming breathing or brisk physical activity.
Chronic stress occurs when stressors dont let up. The roots of chronic stress can vary widely, from situations people can control or avoid to difficulties that are hard to escape . Because people respond differently to stressful circumstances, a situation that one person might find tolerable can become a source of chronic stress for another.
Chronic stress can damage both mental and physical health. Being chronically stressed may leave you feeling fatigued, sap your ability to concentrate and cause headaches and digestive difficulties. People prone to irritable bowel syndrome often find that their symptoms spike with psychological stress.15 Though acute stress can heighten certain immune responses, the wear-and-tear of chronic stress is bad for the immune system.16 Chronic stress can also affect cardiac health, with multiple studies finding a link between chronic stress and the development of coronary artery disease.17
The American Psychological Association gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Beverly Thorn, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.
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Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy Manage Anxiety Andstress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
Chomp Some Chewing Gum
Maybe youre stuck in annoying traffic, frantically cleaning the house before your in-laws show, or hammering out that final term paper. Chewing gum is an easy way to keep the stress monster at bay while potentially boosting your mood and productivity Allen AP, et al. . Chewing gum: Cognitive performance, mood, well-being, and associated physiology. DOI: 10.1155/2015/654806 .
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Tips To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
Being always anxious can be unhealthy, while until now, the stigma about mental health is still present. Yet, did you know that stress and anxiety are one of the mental disorders having the highest prevalence in the US?
As sighted by NIMH, around 19.1% of U.S. adults are suffering from an anxiety disorder, and most of them are females, which is 23.4% more than their opposite gender. Meanwhile, around 31.1% of US adults were reported to experience some symptoms of anxiety in their lives. As for the latest edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-V, anxiety disorders come with different types, but they share the same hallmark, which is the excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances.
Anxiety and fear are different concepts. For instance, DSM-V differentiates fear as emotional response to a real or perceived imminent threat from anxiety, as the anticipation of future threat. Such disturbances can impact different areas of your functioning such as your school, work, and even your overall personal and social life. Thus, you may need some anxiety relief.
Things To Do To Relax Your Mind
Relaxation not only helps your physical health but your mental health as well. Adding relaxation to your days can help you think more calmly and clearly. A relaxed mind also means you can perform better at work and in life. It helps you manage the chronic stress that sometimes comes with being a high performer. When your mind is relaxed, you make wiser decisions and generally operate throughout the day with more ease.
Plus, if youve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, like generalized anxiety disorder or depression, relaxation can play an important role here, too. While stress can aggravate these conditions, relaxation tends to have the opposite effect, leading to a noticeable decrease in symptoms.
If you find yourself caught up in anxious thoughts or ruminating on past events, its a good time to relax your mind. Try one of these exercises to slow down your thoughts and ground yourself in the present moment.
Have a Laugh
When youre feeling stressed, put on your favorite comedy or call your funniest friend. Laughter not only distracts us and gives us perspective, but emerging research suggests that it can lessen stress too.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
When were anxious or stressed out, we tend to isolate ourselves. But in order to relax, we need to be around our community. Science tells us that social support is critical in helping us respond to stress.
Make a Gratitude List
Listen to Music
Turn Off Your Tech Devices
Do a Craft Project
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How To Practice Deep Breathing
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
I’ve Tried Relaxation Exercises But I Just Can’t Do It
One of the reasons that more people don’t use relaxation exercises is because they haven’t seen results when they’ve tried them in the past.
The truth is that everyone can benefit from these relaxation techniques. It just takes the right preparation and attitude:
- Make sure you commit to it. Most relaxation techniques take several weeks to master. They’re very hard to simply pick up and expect results because in the beginning your mind is just focused on doing everything right. That focus can temporarily add to the stress. But later, when you’ve had enough experience, it becomes second nature, and the relaxation starts to take effect.
- Stay open minded with a positive attitude. All stress reduction techniques may look and feel a little silly at first, especially if you’ve never done them before, but in the end, you’ll find that they have the effect you’ve been looking for.
- Don’t start if you don’t believe. Make sure that you’re willing to believe that it will work. Otherwise, you’re starting from a bad spot. Relaxation is a mind trick. These techniques help to improve relaxation, but if you doubt they’ll work, then they can’t work.
- Give yourself at least 20 minutes every day, and make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible – in a comfortable chair, with comfortable clothes, at a comfortable temperature.
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