It is almost impossible to believe that stress and anxiety are not meant to be a part of our daily lives. They are so ingrained into work, school, and family relationships that it seems they’re inevitable. But, not only are they not healthy – they are harmful to your mental and physical health. 

And while anxiety is partially internal and you can’t escape it, especially if you have an anxiety disorder, stress comes and goes in everyone’s life, and we all need to deal with it at some point. So, let’s look at some of the skills we should all have to make sure we’re coping well when life throws some hard times our way.

Take Care of your Body

We might think that stress and anxiety are something that just happens in our heads, but in reality, our bodies are just as involved. When we do feel high levels of stress and anxiety, our body reacts to it through headaches, shaking, etc. The state of our body can also impact how much stress we feel.

Get Enough Sleep

The first on the list is sleep. If you’re running on just a couple hours of sleep, you’ll be tired, more irritative, unable to focus, likely to overthink things, and overall in a bad mood. When we sleep, our bodies and minds rest and recharge, so if you know you’re going to have a busy and potentially stressful day tomorrow, just make sure you get to bed as soon as possible and get a good 8 hours of sleep to feel fresh when you actually go out there to face the world.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Similar to sleep, the fuel we put in our bodies is crucial to how we function. If you’re only eating processed food that is high in sugars and hard for your body to digest, two things will happen: You’ll get blood sugar spikes that will heighten your alertness, and therefore, your anxiety, and then you’ll crash, which will make you stressed out. On top of that, if you can’t properly digest food, you’ll just end up feeling sleepy all day and stressed because you can’t get things done. If you eat a balanced diet, not only will you be properly fueling your body, but you’ll be getting all the necessary nutrients that allow your brain to function properly, such as Omega3 fatty acids.

Cut Back on Caffeine

If you drink a lot of tea or coffee, that might be your source of anxiety. Caffeine affects our body in many ways, and in small doses, it will keep you more alert and help you focus. However, too much of it, and you’ll start feeling jittery, distracted, and anxious. So try to keep your coffee intake on a couple of cups daily. You really don’t need more than that.

When you Feel Anxious

When you start to feel anxious and stressed out, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and do something about them. You can’t just ignore them and hope they will go away. But not all coping strategies are good ones, so let’s take a look at a few that will actually do you some good:

Have a Stress Kit

We are all different, and what works for someone else might not work for you, so it’s important that you tailor this to yourself. Think about all the things that usually reduce your stress when you’re in a bad spot. Is it a particular sensation, like smelling something or seeing something? Is it doing something with your hands, like pumping a stress ball, coloring, or writing? Or is it pampering yourself in some way? Think about this and add the things you feel would help you in your stress kit. You can even make a miniature version to take to work or school with you to calm down before you get home.

Take your Time

You can’t just breeze through these emotions – they require you to stop and give them space to be felt and acknowledged. Sometimes, during a busy day, you can’t exactly take half an hour to cool off, but even taking five minutes, changing your surroundings by going outside or into another room and just taking deep breaths will help calm you down. Take deep breaths, and on the exhale, try to hold it for a couple of seconds. This helps your brain calm down and realize that it’s not in fight or flight mode and that it’s okay to relax.

Have a Mantra

Sometimes, just a couple of well-chosen words can put our mind at ease better than any medicine. A mantra that you can repeat to yourself like “I cannot control everything,” “This will pass,” or “Everything will be alright” can help you ground yourself and realize that things aren’t as dire as you thought they were. Try to stay away from the “Live, laugh, love” style of mantras because they are so generic they really can’t help anyone, and find something that is uniquely yours.

Have a Mantra

Don’t Bottle it Up

Just like you need to acknowledge these feelings – you need to share them. Keeping how you’re feeling locked inside your own mind will just make you feel more isolated, alone, and anxious. You can talk to a friend or a loved one, but really the thing that will help you the most is to talk to a licensed therapist. Not only can you freely speak about everything without the fear of hurting the feelings of the people you love, but you’ll be able to get professional tips, help, and perhaps even medication if they deem it necessary.

It’s essential you know that you are not alone in this. Everyone feels these emotions at times, and people will have empathy towards you if you ask for help or some time to cool off. Once you identify what triggers your anxiety and elevates your stress, you can take steps to work on reducing those triggers in your daily life. Still, it’s impossible to avoid stress altogether, so give yourself a break and accept that how you feel is just a part of everyday human existence. 

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