Stress And Anxiety Management Techniques
By: Sarah Fader
Updated February 07, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly Coker, M.B.A., Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Stress is a term, which has been used in physics for centuries. That term is used to explain "elasticity, which is the property of a material that allows it to resume its original size and shape after having been compressed or stretched by an external force." This type of stress or strain is given a negative connotation. Since the term stress has been given a negative connotation, all the positives have been erased. Stress can be helpful and good when it motivates people to accomplish more.
Stress and anxiety are both parts of everyday life. Everyone experiences these feelings at some level. However, when these feelings affect how we function and are categorized as negatives, they need to be managed so that we can be productive and content. Sometimes simple practices can have a huge impact and will lessen those feelings of negative stress and anxiety.
Yoga can have a calming effect on those who start this practice. Many people consider it an exercise, but it has a great impression on the mind also.
When you take a yoga class:
*you are prompted to stay present at the moment
*you are in a quiet, calming environment
*you are not judged by anyone
*you are given time for yourself without outside influences
*you are moving your body to release stress within muscles
*you are given tools to take off your yoga mat to deal with stressful/anxious situations that may arise
Finding a yoga class near you can be quite easy
*group coupon websites often offer low-cost options for yoga classes
*many studios will offer a free class for you to sample their offerings
*many studios offer low-cost bundles of classes so that you can try several classes to see what works best for you
Yoga poses for Stress/Anxiety relief:
*Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with forwarding bend
*Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) with shoulder opener
*Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
*Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
*Plow Pose (Halasana)
*Corpse Pose (Savasana) with blocks on head
Meditation is a great way to release stress/anxiety or to keep those feelings at bay. It doesn't have to be a long process where you aren't thinking about anything. Many people feel that they have to do it for long lengths of time and keep their mind totally blank. That is not the case.
Suggestions to assist your meditation practice:
*Meditation can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to longer lengths of time
*Meditation isn't about controlling your mind; it is about not letting your mind control you
*There are many great guided meditations apps and podcasts available that can keep you focused on the present moment
*Find a quiet, cozy place to meditate and make it a daily routine
*Don't wait for stress or anxiety to come knocking. Mediate to keep those feelings from entering your body and mind
*Purchase a meditation pillow to be able to sit in a comfortable position
Great apps for meditation:
Most people see massage as a luxury, but incorporating it into your wellness routine can be a key piece of keeping stress and anxiety at low levels. Many massage studios offer specials when you schedule on a regular basis, and some health plans offer some coverage for massage.
Massage is known to:
*raise levels of oxytocin and serotonin, which are known to lower stress levels
*lower blood pressure by enhancing the relaxation response
*target areas of the body where you carry stress and anxiety to loosen the tension
*help people achieve a deeper sleep
*improve blood flow, so you don't hold in tension from stress and anxiety
Yes, we all breathe every day, and this is how we stay alive. The type of breathing exercise that helps with stress and anxiety isn't our regular everyday breathing. "Using specific breathing techniques and breath control means that you are mindful of the way you breathe in and out. By purposefully changing the way we breathe, we can change the way we feel and how our bodies react to what's going on around us" Source: draxe.com
Breathing exercises can:
*reduce the heart rate, which makes some people less anxious and tense
*help people fall asleep faster when they are in the midst of over thinking
*force your mind to think about the breathing task instead of worrying
*envelop people in the sense of calm
Types of breathing exercises:
*4-7-8 Breathing: breathe in for four counts, hold for seven counts, breathe out for eight counts
*Belly Breathing: Focus on breathing through the nose and how your belly fills with air. Breathe in slowly and feel your belly expand, and then exhale.
*Alternate Nostril Breathing: Put your right pointer and middle finger between your eyes. Cover the right nostril with the right thumb and take a deep breath. Hold breath, cover the left nostril with your ring finger, take thumb off right nostril and breathe out. Breathe in with ring finger covering left nostril. Cover right nostril with the thumb, take ring finger off left nostril and breathe out. Repeat back and forth.
*Counting Breaths: Take a deep breath and exhale counting one. Take another deep breath and exhale counting two. Repeat this to 5 or 10.
Adopting an exercise routine is one of the best habits you can get into for all areas of your health. It will not only relieve stress and anxiety, but it will help with weight management, heart health, and overall wellness. Exercise is often referred to as a natural antidepressant and natural energy booster. Exercise produces endorphins, which are like natural painkillers so when they are produced, we feel less negative effects of stress.
Exercises that are best for relieving anxiety and stress are:
If they above exercises are not your cup of tea, find an exercise that you love and that you will stick to and it will help you fight the negative effects of stress and anxiety. If you choose an exercise that you don't like, you are more likely not to do it, so it is much better to choose something that you like to do. Even if the exercise doesn't produce those highest levels of endorphins, it will help you to get moving and get healthy, and it will be beneficial for you.
Other exercises that you may enjoy:
Many gyms and workout studios offer the first class free or have low-cost options to sample the classes. Group coupon sites also offer great deals to try out different classes. It is of the utmost importance to feel comfortable at the gym/studio you choose. If you don't like the vibe of the place, you are likely to dread going there. Always try the place out first to make sure it is a good fit.
Sleep is a crucial piece of a low stress/low anxiety life. Even when you have one night of disrupted sleep, it can affect you negatively, which can add stress and anxiety to your day. Many people underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep. "When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which can increase stress" source: WebMD.com
Ways to ensure a good night's sleep:
*Stop eating and drinking at least 2 hours before bedtime
*Use blackout curtains/blinds to keep bedroom dark
*Do not check social media while in bed
*Do not charge phone in bedroom
*No caffeine after 2 pm
*Invest in a good mattress and pillow
*Make sure that room is dark…no extra light sources in bedroom
*Meditate before bed
*Do breathing exercises when you get into bed
*Adjust temperature…not too hot and not too cold
Listening to music, especially songs that bring forth positive feelings or memories can help to reduce stress and anxiety. If you play a song that reminds you of a happy, calm, fun time in your life, your mind will immediately go to that memory, thereby lessening your current anxiety. If you enjoy listening to music with your eyes closed as a type of meditation, that can be helpful also.
10 of the most relaxing songs ever:
*Weightless - Marconi Union
*Electra - Airstream
*Mellomaniac/Chillout Mix - DJ Shah
*Watermark - Enya
*Strawberry Swing - Coldplay
*Please Don't Go - Barcelona
*Pure Shores - All Saints
*Someone Like You - Adele
*Canzonettasull'aria…Che Soave Zeffirelli (Duettino) - Mozart
*We Can Fly - Rue Du Soleil
If you have anxiety and stress that you feel is not manageable by any of the above techniques, you should contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need. It is private, convenient and will be one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your wellness. Do the thing today that your future self will thank you for.