As a business owner and, lets face it, someone living in 2020, I’ve grown more and more familiar with the feeling of stress and anxiety. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. And the feeling of anxiety alone can lead to even more stress and anxiety – like a big, bad snowball steamrolling its way down a hill.
It is so important to your health (both physical and mental) and to your life that you find successful ways of managing stress and anxiety. Methods that are successful may look different from person to person. But in my experience, these are some things I’ve found to be extremely helpful in lowering my anxiety levels:
Exercising is one of the most important things you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety. (Also one of the most difficult in my opinion). It literally lowers your body’s stress hormones and releases endorphins which boost your mood. It also improves your sleep quality, which in turn helps reduce stress, and helps you feel more confident in yourself – again boosting your mood.
2. Light a candle
Aromatherapy can help lower anxiety and stress. Light a candle or use essential oils to benefit from calming scents. Here are some scents that have proven to be especially calming and soothing:
- Roman chamomile
- Ylang ylang
- Orange or orange blossom
- Any scent that triggers a strong, happy memory for you
3. Reduce your caffeine intake
Although caffeine can be healthy in moderation, high doses can help contribute to stress and anxiety. Consider laying off the coffee or energy drinks if you notice caffeine makes you jittery or anxious. Perhaps consider herbal tea which has lower amounts of caffeine and other wonderful benefits.
4. Write it down
Whether it’s keeping track of your to-do lists or writing in your journal daily, writing things down can help reduce stress and anxiety by clearing it from your mind and putting it on paper instead.
5. Chew gum
Apparently chewing a stick of gum may help you relax, promote well-being, and reduce stress. Studies have shown that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people and promotes blood flow to your brain. Who knew??
6. Spend time with friends and family
Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and loved ones can absolutely help reduce anxiety. Social support gives you a sense of belonging and can help you get through the tough times. Studies have shown that for women in particular, spending time with friends and family helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.
We’ve all heard that “laughter is the best medicine”, and it’s so true! Laughing can help relieve stress, relax your muscles, boost your mood, and improve your immune system. Try finding the humor in everyday life, spending time with friends that make you laugh, or watching a comedy/funny TV show.
8. Learn to say no
Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on — and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels.
9. Learn to avoid procrastination
Procrastinating can leave you feeling like your scrambling to catch up and can negatively affect your health and sleep quality. Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Staying on top of what needs to get done can help you ward off procrastination-related stress.
10. Take a yoga class
Yoga works wonders for stress and anxiety. The purpose is to increase awareness of your mind, body, and breath. Yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety by massaging your nervous system. It can help lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend trying this method out for reducing stress and anxiety.
11. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is another extremely effective way of reducing stress and anxiety. It helps anchor you to the present moment and combats anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking. Meditation and yoga are two very popular forms of practicing mindfulness. A couple of my favorite meditation apps are Headspace and Calm.
Research shows that cuddling, kissing, hugging, and sex can all help relieve stress. The positive physical contact released oxytocin and helps lower cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate.
13. Listen to soothing music
Listening to slow, relaxing music can help lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones. Music like classical, celtic, nature souds, or instrumental music can be very effective. Ans simply listening to music that you enjoy, no matter the genre, can help lift your mood as well.
Stress and anxiety can activate your sympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to go into fight-or-flight mode. During this type of anxiety attack, stress hormones are released and you experience symptoms like a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing, and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing exercises can help control your relaxation response. Focus your awareness on your breath, rather than your physical symptoms and allow yourself to feel at peace.
15. Spend time with your pet
Spending time with your pet actually releases oxytocin and helps relieve stress and boost your mood. You pet can also help reduce stress and anxiety by giving you purpose, keeping you active, and providing companionship.