10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety
Stress is a natural (daily) part of life, even before the strange, unsettling times in which we live presently.
Now, not all stress is bad. After all, exercise is a form of beneficial stress that actually makes us stronger, more resilient.
But, when stress and anxiety become the norm, it can negatively impact our mental state, sleep, and physical performance. Chronic stress and anxiety also makes us more prone to illness and infection.
One of the absolute best things you can do to help lower feelings of stress and anxiety is to exercise.
It’s true that exercise is an acute (short-term) stressor to the body, but grinding your way through a challenging workout can actually help relieve mental anguish.
Research has shown that individuals who regularly exercise are less prone to feelings of anxiety. Plus, exercise also increases “feel good” hormones like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Regular exercise also improves sleep, which also affects feelings of stress in the body.
And, speaking of sleep…
Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep Each Night
Getting sufficient sleep each and every night is paramount to keeping stress in check.
Chronic sleep deprivation leads to elevations in cortisol (the stress hormone), which can make us feel on edge, irritable, and tired.
Moreover, sleep deprivation also impairs cognitive and physical performance, and it disrupts energy metabolism in the body, making you more likely to overeat and store fat around your midsection (which only adds to your levels of stress).
By getting enough sleep each night, you’re setting yourself up for success the following day, whatever it is you happen to be doing.
To help get to sleep each night, try reducing exposure to blue light 2 hours before bed, and establishing some type of nighttime ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the evening.
You can also try taking a nighttime sleep and relaxation aid, such as Nighttime Burn which contain several nutrients that combat feelings of stress and promote calm and relaxation.
Moderate Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is the most popular stimulant on the planet, widely available in coffee, tea, and pre workout supplements.
It’s effective and (when used appropriately) safe.
Caffeine increases mental alertness, exercise performance, and our ability to just get stuff done during the day.
However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
In certain individuals, consuming too much caffeine can lead to increased feelings of anxiety.
Therefore, be mindful of your caffeine intake as well as when you consume it during the day.
Spend Time Outdoors
Research shows that spending 20-30-minutes of walking or sitting in nature offers stress-relieving benefits.
Dubbed “nature pills”, these 20-30 minute sessions significantly lower cortisol levels, and researchers suggest they could be a low-cost, all-natural means to reduce stress and anxiety induced by our increasingly indoor, urbanized lifestyle.
Talk to Family and Friends
Social support is vital during these times. Being able to reach out to family and friends can greatly help you get through stressful times.
Research indicates that individuals with the least amount of social interactions are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety or depression.
Part of the reason that spending time with family and friends helps reduce anxiety and stress is that social interaction stimulates the release of the feel good neurotransmitter, oxytocin, which acts as a natural stress reliever.
Thanks to the advances of modern technology, even if you can’t physically be in the same room as your loved ones, you can connect with them on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or any one of the other communication mediums readily available.
Listen to Relaxing Music
Music is a splendid thing.
It can motivate you during a tough workout, and it can help you wind down and relax, too.
Even the music of Mother Nature (birds tweeting, crickets chirping, etc) can also have a calming effect on the body.
Yet another strategy that can be used to relax during stressful situations is deep (diaphragmatic) breathing. Its practice dates back centuries as a means for crushing stress and uniting the body, mind, and spirit.
Deep breathing exercises can help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which runs counter to the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response), thereby inducing feelings of relaxation.
The goal of deep breathing is to help “block out the noise” (those things that are making you feel anxious and/or irritable).
During this breathing drill, you focus your awareness on breathing, making it slower, deeper, and more controlled.
As you inhale deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand, and your abdomen expands. As you exhale through your nose, allow your shoulders to relax, belly to come in, and stressors to leave you.
Mindfulness is described as the “awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Essentially, you are focusing on the here and now — what is going on immediately around you and within you.
So often we’re caught up in things we have no control over, and this endless worrying does nothing but make us feel more stressed and anxious.
Be OK Saying No
As much as we always want to lend a helping hand or be the dependable person in life, sometimes it’s OK to say no.
Trying to walk around as the consummate “yes man” or “yes woman” can lead you to taking on more than you are capable of and thus, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious.
Learning to say no is just as important as a skill as saying “yes” when the situation warrants it.
Part of saying no is more fully understanding your capabilities, limitations, and availability.
You should be intentional and selective about what tasks you accept as well as which ones you do not.
There are a number of supplements that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Better still, these compounds are readily found in nature and don’t come with the dependency or withdrawal issues of medications typically used to combat anxiety.
Standout compounds that have been identified in helping reduce stress and anxiety, include L-Tyrosine, Ashwagandha, and L-Theanine.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid found in dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, oats, and wheat. The body can also produce tyrosine from the essential amino acid L-Phenylalanine.
Tyrosine is used to produce several important neurotransmitters and fat-burning catecholamines in the body, including dopamine and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).
Ashwagandha is a root long used in Ayurveda to restore vigor and vitality, both it also has widely been used for its anti-stress effects. The plant serves as an adaptogen in the body.
Adaptogens improve the body’s ability to encounter, react, and recover from stress. Numerous studies have been conducted on ashwagandha and shown it to be effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and even weight loss.
L-Theanine is an amino acid present in green tea that is responsible for the calm, smooth energy of tea compared to the more intense, aggressive energy of coffee. The reason for this is that Theanine increases levels of GABA in the brain.
GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, and by increasing its concentration, theanine helps promote feelings of calm relaxation without sedation.