How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety in 5 Ways

stress and anxiety

Everyone has some level of stress or anxiety in their life. Let no one tell you that they don’t. It’s a very normal and common feeling that even some children will go through it. Whether it is bullying, work stress, mental stress over perfection, health stress, family, relationship… the list goes on… its all stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s natural response to a something that is out of the norm. This could be a challenge, a change (good or bad) and is a flight or fight response signal too. Stress is your body’s way to let you know that something is out of the ordinary or what is deemed ordinary by your individual body. Most people look at stress as a bad reaction. However, it can actually be a signal for us to change something in our around us. The difference is if you let the signal keep ringing for way too long. That’s when the effects of the stress take over your body and mind.

How to Reduce Stress?

Not everyone has the same stressors or stress-reducing solutions. This is one that you will have to figure out through the steps listed below.

One of the things my doctor said to me when I went in for a brain and neck MRI for my migraines was that if I didn’t reduce my stress (which was mostly from work at that time) that I would be dead in five years. Now whether he was actually right or just trying a different tactic to get me to lower my stress level, that became the ringing tune that continues to play in my head.  A lot of issues from anxiety, to depression, to disease all have some roots in the stress your body goes through for one reason or another.

What I learnt and continue to learn in my life is that that amount of stress I absorb has resulted in exponential issues in my health. I have tried to cut out as much of the root cause of stress as possible, but that is not always possible. Some things as minor (or major) as your neighbor stomping above you at 2am every night are issues that will cause some sort of negative reaction in your body. Here are a few of the things I do to help reduce stress.

1. Find the Root Cause and Process it

One of the things I’ve learned is to get in tune with my body the minute I recognize I am stressing out. I feel anxiety, or my body starts shaking, I get a twitch, or I literally just start crying. As soon as I recognize that something has happened or recurred for me to have a reaction, I start looking for the cause. If there is something I can do about it to get rid of it, I will do my best to get it out of my life. If this is something from my childhood that doesn’t just go away, I try to process it. I realize I am in no immediate danger so it’s okay to let go of the past memory (hard, but possible). Getting to the root cause is the surest way to take off the weight this stressful situation has on you.

2. Journal Your Stressors

I haven’t really been the best at this. I still can’t understand how little girls used to write in their journals as kids. You know some even had locks on their journals? How cool! I was of the belief that I have nothing to say or process so what would I even write about. However, what I have noticed as an adult with issues is, that I am writing for no one else but myself. And I’m writing to get these thoughts out on paper so they are not rushing in my head at a 1000 mph. And once they are out of my head, I can breath.

At the end of writing, I can burn that piece of paper(s). Burning has been recommended as a symbol of burning your problems and not letting them have any hold over you. Deleting it from your drafts folder (not as dramatic and satisfying as the burn), or storing it in your safe space to come back to if you need to, are also great options if that is what you want to do.

3. Talk to a Trusted Friend

Operative word: “Trusted”. If you have a ton of friends you can trust wholeheartedly, then by all means, take your pick. Friends, family, or significant other who are chosen friends can be a big support system while you are going through whatever you are. This life is a journey not meant to be traveled alone. Once you have someone who you can vomit your stress to, you will a) feel much better, b) you may also find resolutions to that problem by stating it out loud, c) get your friend’s insight and different opinion or solutions that you may not have thought through. Friends are your angels on Earth.

4. See a Therapist

There is a taboo in my community about getting a therapist. I think its one of the worst taboos we have and I commend those who are helping break the mold. And especially for those who are trying to reduce stress and anxiety. I honestly feel like at the age of 8, we all need to be assigned a therapist. The first 7 years define your trajectory in life and I think the sooner we course correct, the better. Also, our brains haven’t fully developed until we are about 24ish? (Read about that here). So the theory that we are human and can handle everything without any support is bs.

Related: When to See a Therapist

Therapists are not allowed to tell you what to do, even though I’ve worked with some who have. They are still a safe third-party who are non-judgmental, under HIPPA laws, and can truly help you (once your find the right one). They work through understanding your issues and will offer tips and solutions to address them. Nowadays you can talk to them online too so no need to show your face.

5. Immediate Solutions to Reduce Stress

So I left the best for last. Here are a few things you can do right now to bring your body back to balance and immediately drop and reduce stress and anxiety:

  • Meditate – a sure way to calm or body or at the very least, distract you from your problems. Learn how to meditate here.
  • Pray – For those who prefer this option, do it. God/Universe/Higher Power, they are always listening and waiting to help. When you pray, you connect with something other than you and your problems. In that short time of prayer, you will temporarily break the connection with the pain. This break from the stressful situation, will help your body do the repairs it needs in that moment. This removes it from the constant state of being in fight or flight.
  • Bubble Bath! Gurlll, I was never big on bubble baths until I realized I had the water so hot, I was creating a recipe to pass out! Don’t do that. But do take one and make sure you have those cutesy bath bombs on hand because you deserve it!
  • Watch a comedy/stand-up special – laughing during a tough time is not selfish or obnoxious. It is self-healing. Do it. When you are better, you will be ready to refocus to handle the issue. Who knows, the issue may not even be there by the end of the movie.
  • Bring yourself back to right now. Hard one to conceive, but in this immediate state, like these next 10 breaths, you are okay. Nothing is actually happening other than the power you are giving that stress. I know this because I have been there – more than a 1000 times.

Conclusion

And always know that this too shall pass. OMG I hate it when people tell me that when I am in the middle of an attack, but it is true.

You don’t have to see the staircase, just take the first step and believe. Your journey to reduce stress and anxiety may start with finding your root cause. It could also be by noticing your personality and how you react in general.

Whatever it is, there are ways to cope and also fix what is in your control. Love yourself, befriend yourself , and be patient with your thoughts and feelings. You’re going to be alright, poppet.

What are you doing to reduce stress or anxiety?

Featured photo courtesy of pexels.com

Article last updated on September 13th, 2021

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