There’s no getting around the fact that life can get very stressful. Between what happens from day to day in our personal lives and what goes on around us in the world, we often find ourselves having to deal with anxiety-provoking and nerve-wracking situations.
Family conflict, unemployment, financial instability, health crises, geopolitical conflicts, and social issues — these issues affect everyone at one point or another. When life becomes chaotic and unpredictable, our stress and anxiety increase accordingly.
Sometimes, we don’t respond the best to these stressors, turning to social media binges, drugs or alcohol, and other distractions for short-lived comfort. Thankfully, we can talk to friends and therapists, find addiction treatment, and learn ways to cope with stress in a positive way that leaves us feeling healthier and happier.
Stress management is essential for mental and physical well-being. However, not all stress management strategies are healthy.
Beware of maladaptive coping skills, which work effectively for the short-term, but not in the long term. For example, drinking alcohol is one way of coping with stress after long, busy days, but there’s the risk of developing a chemical dependence, which causes additional trouble and stress.
Fortunately, you can create your own toolbox of healthy coping skills to combat your anxiety and find your inner zen when you start to feel overwhelmed during busy and stressful times.
Healthy Habits and Routines
Your body and your mind need fuel to handle day-to-day activities and cope with stressful situations. Balanced nutrition is essential for optimal mental function.
Maintaining a healthy diet and pursuing positive habits can improve how you feel immensely. Unhealthy habits, on the other hand, can impair your physical and mental functions, causing you to feel worse.
It’s important to change unhealthy habits such as resorting to junk food or alcohol for quick comfort. Find healthy habits to replace those unhealthy ones, such as:
- a morning routine
- daily walks
- reading a good book
Mindfulness and Meditation
When stress levels spike and it feels like an anxiety attack is right around the corner, it’s probably time to shift gears and slow your mind down.
Meditation and the practice of mindful thinking help to channel mental energy and calm a racing mind. Your mind can only handle so much tension and stress before it gets overwhelmed and anxiety takes over.
Simple guided meditations and mindfulness exercises can help you focus on breathing techniques and ignore distractions that are overstimulating your brain. Giving yourself even just a brief reprieve from a busy schedule or stressful situation can help you reboot your mind.
Talking about your feelings, thoughts, and emotions with a mental health professional has amazing therapeutic benefits that can have a profoundly positive impact on your quality of life.
Investing in individual talk therapy is a proactive plan that can help you continuously learn new stress management skills to prevent or cope with anxiety.
Poor quality or lack of sleep is one of many symptoms and signs of stress and anxiety. But sleep is also integral to mental health and coping with the stressors that trigger anxiety, so you should prioritize sleep hygiene along with other basic human needs.
You can improve your quality of sleep by establishing and practicing a nightly routine of doing things that help you relax and decompress. Work toward waking up each morning with the mental clarity and energy you need to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Having an outlet for physical energy is a scientifically proven strategy for reducing stress and alleviating anxiety. Letting off steam with healthy exercise can do wonders for your mental health. By engaging in a favorite sport or form of exercise and getting physically active on a regular basis, you will feel naturally calmer and more focused.
Exercise helps to balance out chemicals and hormones that your body needs and uses to function each day. When your body exerts energy, it produces endorphins: chemical messengers that send positive signals to your brain’s reward system, producing natural euphoria. This is what a “runner’s high” refers to (and yes, it is a real thing!).
Don’t Stress About Stress
Everyone has a tipping point concerning tolerance for stress. If you find yourself dealing with high levels of stress that are causing you anxiety, this is not a failure on your part. It’s just time to level up your stress management game.
Consider ways of improving your mental health and learning new strategies that will help you cope with whatever curveballs life throws at you.