The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that anxiety disorders affect an incredible 20% of the population, but even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder, you most likely have dealt with extreme stress which can create anxious feelings. This article will take a look at some of the most popular and effective techniques that sufferers can use to help manage their stress levels and responses.
Studies indicate that exercise is an effective way to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
When you first start suffering from extreme stress, one of the most common ways of coping is to stop doing things. Unfortunately, this isn’t very effective and can even worsen your feelings. If you start trying to avoid the things that make you feel stressed or anxious, you can quickly cut out most forms of human contact. Some sufferers even become housebound.
It might be contrary to how you feel, but getting out of the house and exercising is one of the best ways you can do to start improving your levels of relaxation.
Exercise, such as jogging, is recommended by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and many scientific studies, such as this 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, back this up. The linked study shows strong evidence that regular exercise has a positive impact on the ability to handle stress and anxious feelings.
2. Focus on the Moment
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to try and deny their feelings. When a physical reaction comes, they try or ignore or eliminate it, hoping for quick relief but actually achieving little.
Instead, sufferers should take the following steps:
Step 1 – Take a deep breath
Focusing on your breathing by taking deep, slow breaths can help you relax and reduces the physiological symptoms you are experiencing. In particular, deep breaths can help reduce the typical “fight or flight” response, calming your body down.
Step 2 – Accept your situation
Accept that you are feeling how you are feeling, and remind yourself that this is a result of your brain playing a trick on you. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed of your reaction; instead, remind yourself that it will pass.
Step 3 – Focus on the moment
Most reactions to stress (though not all) are triggered by possible future events. Instead of thinking about what might happen, focus on what you are doing at the moment. Don’t fall into the trap of doing nothing while in this state, as this can make you feel even worse. Instead, try and get started on an activity, even if it as simple as doing some housework.
By concentrating on the activity instead, you may start to feel better as your brain tends to only focus on one thing at a time.
3. Try Journaling
Starting a journal can help you understand and control your anxious thoughts and feelings. This can help in a wide variety of situations that trigger anxiety.
When you journal about your emotions, including your fear and stress responses, you are expressing your emotions. This can give you a release and help reduce how intensely you feel them.
If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to about how you feel, journaling could be very helpful for you.
Personal relationships with colleagues, bosses, and even friends can be a big trigger for feelings of anxiety, particularly when there is a cause for confrontation in a relationship. Journaling about these problems, disagreements, and misunderstandings can help you understand why other people act the way they do and assess how you should approach the situation.
By thinking about it and expressing yourself before you have to deal with the situation, you can feel better prepared and more comfortable with the entire process.
Solve problems creatively
Other problems, often either monetary or work-related, can cause stress-related anxiety too. Journaling about situations that trigger your responses can help you better understand why that situation makes you feel anxious and can help you think up creative solutions for what otherwise may feel like an unsolvable problem.
4. Take Advantage of Natural Remedies
Many people look toward natural remedies to help reduce their stress. The good news is that there are some genuinely promising remedies with scientific research backing them up.
Putting It All Together
Every person is different: two people with the same reactions can still have very different experiences. The same is true about finding relief. What works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa.
We recommend trying out several different methods of managing your stress and experimenting to find out which one works best for you. It might be exercise, journaling, taking natural remedies, or a combination of several different methods. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article; now pick a technique and try it out.