5 Steps to Manage Stress and Anxiety

When you are feeling anxious or stressed it can seem as though you have no control over either your feelings or the cause of them.  But there are lots of things you can do to manage stress and anxiety enabling you to reduce their effects and, in the longer run, hopefully eradicate them all together.


The first, and perhaps biggest, step is to recognise that you cannot control everything.  Life happens, things will go wrong, sometimes bad things happen.

Accepting this and riding out the rough bumps in the road is key to maintaining a more positive outlook on life and controlling stress and anxiety in the long term.


Switching to a 'glass half full' attitude is not easy if a major aspect of your life is causing your worries, so the next step is to address the route cause of your anxiety.

If your relationship is the cause, it may be time to seek counselling or even to find a lawyer that deals in family matters to start discussing the options available to you.

If money is an issue, start thinking about alternative ways to make money or to boost your income, and address all of the ways you can save money fast too.


If your job is the cause, start addressing your work life balance, or even research some different options such as changing your job or find ways to work from home.

If the cause of your anxiety and stress is more low level, or you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of stress for no apparent reason, then some of the techniques below may help.


Breathe

Most of us breathe very shallowly, so practicing deep, controlled, focused breathing can help alleviate the tightness associated with anxiety.

Sit or lie down in a quiet place and notice your breath.  Begin to breathe more deeply, focusing on expanding your chest and breathing out through your mouth and in through your nose.  Slowly count the in and out breaths, aiming to get to at least 10 before you breathe in or out again.


Take a Break

Walk away, even for just five minutes and take some time to yourself.  Get out into the fresh air, preferably near grass, trees, water and focus on something outside yourself and the maelstrom of your mind.

Take notice of the sights, sounds and smells where you are.  Close your eyes and listen to the leaves rustling in the breeze, feel the wind or sun on your face.

Watch a squirrel or an insect, take time outside of yourself before slowly coming back to centre and taking a new approach to your own feelings.

Related post: Yesterday, I Walked Out


Exercise

Walk, run, cycle, swim, yoga, whatever floats your boat, but get out there.

Try to exercise outside if possible so you can breathe fresh air, hear the birds sing and get plenty of vitamin N (nature).

Exercise helps to clear your mind, gives you a break (see above), and helps keep both body and mind healthy.

Meditation, either as a sitting practice, or as you walk can also help significantly.


Take Control

Yes, there are many, many things you cannot control.  But you can control your reactions.

Seek out ways to manage the situations you face.

Make lists and work out exactly where you stand in relation to the problems you face or everything you have to do.  If you have too much on your plate, work out what you can delegate.  Offload to your partner or family if possible, or hire someone to help.  Getting a VA or a cleaner could be the key to taking some things off your plate and giving you more time and less stress.

Resolve to say no more and to make more time for yourself.  Take a duvet day or just run a hot bath and grab a good book.  Take time out.

By looking at the things you CAN change you will feel more in control, more empowered and more able to tackle both practical and emotional problems.

Unplug from technology and the news for a few hours, a day, a week, and see how much difference it makes not having to soak up everyone else's and the world's problems as well as your own.

Related posts:

How to Fit Relaxation and 'Me' Time into Your Every Day
The To Do List That Never Ends and Why It Doesn't Matter


Get Healthy

Sleep better, eat better, and stop drinking alcohol and caffeine.  Eat more fruit and vegetables, drink more water.  You know the story.

A lot all in one go?  Yes!  But adopting a new healthy habit each week will change your mind and your life in weeks.

Related post: 9 Habits for Healthy Eating


Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming, but you can stop them from taking over your life and destroying your happiness.  By adding some simple structures to your life you can make both your body and your mind more robust.  Then when worries and stress hits you can find ways to manage it with a controlled approach that manages the stress, rather then letting it manage you.

How else do you deal with stress and anxiety?

Related posts:

30 Days to a Happier, More Balanced Life
A 5 Step Plan to Reduce Stress and Overwhelm
Stress Management for Busy Mums
101 Simple Self-care Ideas for Busy Mums
21 Ways to Be Happier Today

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