Stress is a common challenge, with 77% of Americans reporting that stress impacts their physical health and 73% indicating that stress impacts their mental health. Anxiety is a common reaction to stress, further exacerbating symptoms. If you’re feeling the pressure of stress, you’re certainly not alone. Here are a few things you can do to lower your stress and anxiety.
Meditation is the practice of emptying your mind and focusing on the present moment. This can help you shut down anxieties over what may happen in the future or what’s already happened in the past by forcing you to stay present. Practice meditation daily to increase your ability to stay present and control your stress levels.
If you’re in the habit of starting the day with coffee or ending your meal with dark chocolate, you could be increasing your anxiety with the very things that you turn to for a feel-good boost. Foods and beverages that contain caffeine, like coffee, soda, and chocolate, can cause your adrenaline levels to spike. This creates feelings of anxiousness. Cut back on caffeine and increase healthy foods that improve your cortisol metabolism like bananas, avocados, walnuts, and almonds.
Physical exercise lowers stress hormones like cortisol while releasing endorphins that elevate your mood. Though it can take a bit of a mental push to get started, you’ll typically find that you feel much more relaxed after a workout. Look for an activity that you enjoy, like yoga, dance, hiking, swimming, or rock climbing. Try to fit physical activity into your schedule at least three times a week, and ideally every day.
Studies have shown that CBD gummies can be effective at reducing anxiety in people suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In one study, participants who took 300 mg of CBD before a public speaking test reported significantly less anxiety.
Journaling is an effective way to work through stressful thoughts and feelings. Try practicing mindful gratitude by writing down five things you’re thankful for each day. Another effective journaling practice is to write down your negative thoughts and challenge their validity. Look for cognitive distortions that are making things seem worse than they are and write out a more realistic counterpoint to your initial stressors.
Lack of sleep can increase anxiety by as much as 30%. However, it may be your anxiety that’s keeping you up at night. If you’re having trouble getting a full night’s sleep, expose yourself to as much bright light as you can during the day and stay away from screens for at least an hour before bed. Try to go to sleep and get up around the same time each day to form a routine.
If you’re under extreme stress that’s impacting your ability to perform routine tasks, seek the help of mental health professional. An experienced therapist can help tremendously with severe stress and anxiety.