Anxiety and stress are interrelated. Stress and anxiety have become so common a problem now that nearly 60 percent of the world is burdened with this inner challenge. You can however overcome it by making a few changes to your lifestyle habits. Below are 5 simple ways to lessen your stress levels.
- Eat right and commit to supplements
Lack of a proper diet has been found to have links with increased stress and anxiety. When we are under stress, we usually forget to eat and instead indulge in fatty snacks and sugar-laden treats that offer a short-term uptick in our mood. But such a diet always has an adverse effect on your body and mind in the long term.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet to lessen your stress levels. Fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, meat, fish and other nutrient rich foods should be a part of the everyday diet.
Avoid alcohol, and quit smoking as it can increase stress. Limit the intake of energy drinks/coffee as caffeine is another major cause of high stress levels and anxiety. Instead you can opt for Green Tea. It contains good antioxidants as well as amino acids that help lessen your stress levels by increasing serotonin levels and soothing the nervous system.
Chewing gum can help calm the brain waves and improve blood supply to the brain, thereby helping you relax, decreasing stress, and enhancing your wellbeing (aside from the sugar content).
Lemon balm, Ayurvedic medicinal herb ‘Ashwagandha’, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also promote anti-anxiety effects and lower stress. Note: If you are taking medications, then it is advisable to contact your doctor before using these supplements as some of them may adversely react with your medicines.
- Exercise for a fit body and mind
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to lessen your stress levels. This is because exertion of physical stress on the body stimulates mental stress relief. Exercise helps release endorphins which serve as natural mood soothers and pain relaxants. Additionally, regular workouts help decrease stress hormones like cortisol, etc. over a period of time.
Select a form of exercise such as walking, jogging, running, dancing, or workouts in a gym that you will not get bored of and thus engage in regularly. Jogging or running results in repeated motions of large muscle sets, which contributes greatly towards stress relief.
Deficient sleep is another factor that increases stress.
When you exercise, it helps improve the quality of your sleep. Relaxation and hormonal changes in the body due to exercise can improve your quality of sleep. It is essential to get at least 8 hours of good sleep. It is recommended that you turn off the TV and the lights before going to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Another benefit of exercising is that it helps improve your self-image and the perception of your body. Consequently, you are more confident and your body feels more capable of finishing tasks. All of these contribute towards lessening your stress levels and enhance mental health.
- Commit to relaxation exercises
Mindfulness, deep breathing, and yoga are some fabulous techniques that can be used to relax the body and the mind. Regular practice of these techniques can also help lessen your stress levels.
Mindfulness will lessen your stress levels and help to reduce negative thoughts that cause stress.
Mindfulness can be improved by engaging in meditation, cognitive therapy based on mindfulness, and mindfulness-associated stress alleviation methods. The technique can enhance your self-image, thereby easing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Stress can trigger the sympathetic nervous system to commence a ‘fight or flight’ which can result in racing pulse, quick breathing, and other adverse symptoms. Practicing deep breathing techniques helps to relax the body and mind by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates the body’s ability to rest and be calm.
With deep breathing, you become more aware of your respiration processes and are able to breathe more slowly and more deeply.
This leads to reduction in heartbeat and higher levels of tranquility. Abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, paced respiration, and belly breathing are some types of deep breathing techniques.
Yoga has become one of the most popular methods for relaxing the body and the mind all over the world, across all age groups. Yoga has been found to alleviate high blood pressure, lower the heart beat and stress hormone levels, and enhance the mood.
The main aim of Yoga is to increase your awareness of your breath and body, thereby joining the mind to your body. Some studies have shown that Yoga works as well as antidepressants to lessen your stress levels and alleviate anxiety and depression (try this video from my YouTube channel) .
Aromatherapy is a method that uses scented oils or scented candles to heal the mood, promote good sleep, and alleviate anxiety and stress.
Essential oils are the essence extracted from the flower, petals, peels, roots, bark, and herb of varied plants such as lavender, lemon, rose, bergamot, cedarwood, vetiver, chamomile, sandalwood, neroli, geranium, and frankincense, etc.
The essential oils are applied or massaged onto the skin, before a bath.
Lightly scented candles work when you breathe in the scents. The oils or ‘scents from the candles’ activate certain areas of the brain that control emotions, thereby causing you to feel good, relaxed, and blissful. It can also trigger the release of serotonin which can lessen your stress levels.
- Make targeted changes in your daily habits
Making certain changes to your life can also help reduce anxiety and stress (here are some for the evening). These include:
If you are not a social person, change it. Spend time with your family and friends, at least once a week. Support from them can often help you overcome stressful times. Telling your friends and family about the stresses in your life can help decrease the overall anxiety and soothe both the body and the mind.
Keep a journal of the new insights that cone to you during the day (this YouTube video will guide you). Concentrate on all the positive things that you write down. Increased focus over the good things in your life and gratitude for it can go a long way to lessen your stress levels.
Laugh whenever you can, as laughing releases endorphins and helps reduce stress. Avoid procrastination, listen to calming music, have physical contact like hugs and cuddles, train yourself to say no.
Small changes can lead to big results when we are consistent.
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