10 Ways to Reduce Stress and AnxietyJulie Montagu - Holistic Health Counsellor
The presence of stress and anxiety in your life can negatively affect your happiness and actually cause your health to deteriorate. Fortunately there is a long list of things that you can do to help to either keep stress and anxiety from your life, or to minimise the impact of these things on your mental health! Julie Montagu, our holistic health expert, shares 10 ways that will help you to beat stress and anxiety.
1) Give Yoga a Try
A typical yoga session will generally involve the practice of physical poses alongside breathing techniques and periods of guided relaxation. Research shows that this is not only great for helping to tackle stress and anxiety, but can also help to lower your blood pressure and your heart rate.
2) Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly can help to enhance your overall cognitive function, which is essential if you are to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Additionally, endorphins are released in your body when you exercise. Endorphins are great for boosting the mood and for improving the quality of sleep, both of which are useful when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety.
3) Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based foods are bursting with natural goodness and this goodness can be quite effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Foods that are high in magnesium are especially useful as this mineral regulates the nervous system, which can help you to cope with stress and prevent anxiety. Plant-based foods that contain an abundance of magnesium include oats, kelp, almonds, cashew nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. Dark leafy green vegetables, bananas and sweet potatoes are also a good source of this helpful mineral!
4) Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to learn to live your life in the present moment, and this can be extremely useful at stopping stress and anxiety in its tracks. The very idea of being mindful is to focus your attention completely on the task at hand. When you attempt to live your life in this way, you will find that stressful thoughts and feelings of anxiety have much less of an invitation into your mind.
5) Embrace Meditation
Spending even a short amount of time meditating each day can go a long way to tackling stress and anxiety. Being alone with your thoughts is a great way to process them and to find resolutions to the causes of these negative emotions. Stress and anxiety are often born from an overactive mind and meditation is a productive tool for calming this over-activity.
6) End Toxic Relationships
Although stress and anxiety are often manifested within our own minds, these feelings can also often be instigated by other people. Severing ties with those who bring negativity into your life is one of the kindest things that you can do for yourself. It is not selfish to put yourself first when someone in your life is causing you unnecessary stress or anxiety!
7) Avoid Self-Medicating
Turning to alcohol or other substances to alleviate the feelings of stress and anxiety is something that the majority of us are guilty of doing at some point. Having a drink to soothe feelings of stress at the end of the day, or drinking to silence anxiety so that you can get through a difficult social situation, are seemingly easy answers. However, this can quickly turn into a problem of its own and should generally be avoided. Alcohol and drugs will affect your serotonin levels, making you more prone to stress and anxiety, as well as depression. Furthermore, many people experience alcohol-anxiety, which can persist for as long as an entire day after drinking. The risk of developing a dependence also exists.
8) Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Many people who suffer from persistent anxiety find that their symptoms are alleviated somewhat by reducing the amount of caffeine that they consume each day. Caffeine is known to contribute to feelings of anxiety, as well as causing insomnia, irritability and heart palpitations.
9) Try New things
Engaging in relaxing hobbies is a positive way to promote a sense of calm whilst also filling your life with enjoyable activities. There are several activities that you can try that will help you to combat stress and anxiety, such as gardening, journaling, reading, learning to dance, going on hikes or participating in team sports.
10) Get an Animal Companion
We certainly don’t need studies to show us that animals are great for improving overall happiness - although there is extensive research on the topic! Having an animal at home, such as a dog or a cat, can improve your mood, and can also reduce tension, stress and anxiety. Having a dog companion is additionally beneficial as you will enjoy the exercise benefits of taking him or her for a daily walk!