Joshua is an ex-addict and founder of the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. He enjoys writing to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. Today, he helps us alleviate stress.
The day begins like any other. You step out of bed and thank the universe for another day. But the tides turn when you get an email about a work crisis that’s beyond your control.
Your pulse quickens, and you feel sick to your stomach. Is it a virus? No. It’s a severe bout of anxiety.
Stress and anxiety are more than just problems of the mind. Their effects can be seen and felt on a very physical level. If anxious feelings linger, chronic stress can cause even deeper issues that include weight gain, depression, and heart disease.
Fortunately, there are some relatively simple techniques you can employ to combat stress and anxiety before they become chronic.
Here are ten life hacks you can use to limit stress and anxiety in your life:
- Reduce Caffeine Intake
When things get stressful at work, we tend to up the caffeine intake in an attempt to stay sharp. But because caffeine works by increasing the heart rate, it can compound problems of stress and anxiety. If you have too much caffeine, you may have heart palpitations and trigger a more serious anxiety attack. The key is to drink caffeine in moderation. If you need a morning boost, try drinking caffeinated tea or limiting yourself to one cup of coffee.
- Use Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender’s healing properties are quite numerous, but this essential oil is best known for its calming abilities. For the best and most calming effects, use lavender essential oil in various areas of your life. Add a few drops to a bath or spray your pillow with a lavender mist to remain calm while you’re at rest.
- Go to Bed Earlier
Lack of sleep can be a major contributor to anxiety, so be sure to set a reasonable bedtime – and stick to it! Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation can amplify anticipatory anxiety by activating the part of the brain responsible for emotional processing. Shoot for at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you find yourself waking up before the alarm, you can try extending your bedtime.
- Drink Green Smoothies
Although events may trigger stress and anxiety, your body will be better equipped to handle any issues if you consume a healthy diet. Green smoothies offer a quick way to deliver a variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Magnesium is an especially calming mineral that’s abundant in leafy greens. Try a smoothie with spinach, cilantro, apple and banana for a simple pick-me-up.
- Acknowledge Your Stress
When you start feeling anxious, stop everything you’re doing. Sit quietly and think about how your thoughts are impacting your body. Feel your pulse race and notice the butterflies in your stomach. Acknowledge that it’s your own thoughts that are causing physical harm. Then, try to reframe your thoughts to be more positive. Understand that you are in control.
- Practice Gratitude
When you’re feeling bad, the last thing you want to hear is that someone else has it worse. But guess what? They do. Regardless of what has you down, think about the things you have to be grateful for. It may take some effort, but a little gratitude can help transform your thought process.
Whether it’s a home barre class or a 1-mile jog around the neighborhood, get up and exercise. You will feel better. Exercise works to bust anxiety by firing up your endorphins and helping you get a better night’s rest. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that people who exercise vigorously are 25% less likely to develop an anxiety disorder over five years.
- Socialize Some
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, you may not want to engage with anyone, but it’s important that you do. It’s okay to spend some time alone, but isolation can give you too much time to dwell on your problems. This will only serve to make your anxiety worse.
- Keep a Journal of Your Thoughts
Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. When you’re thinking in a negative way, write down your thoughts and try to change them. For example, if you’re feeling a crushing sense of self-doubt, write about those thoughts. Then, write all the things you are confident about. See if you can redirect your negative thoughts before they manifest themselves physically as anxiety.
- Talk to a Therapist
If your stress and anxiety persist regardless of what you do, it may be time to enlist the help of a professional therapist. Talking about your problems can help put things into perspective and help clear your mind.
Everyone faces stress and anxiety in their lives, but some are more prone than others. If you feel like stress is taking over, it’s time to make some simple changes to allow for positivity.