Everyone can experience stress and anxiety every now and then. Some people experience it more often than others. When anxiety and stress start to make our days harder, it’s important to have healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with the feelings that well up.
“We live in times of high stress. Messages that are simple, messages that are inspiring, messages that are life-affirming, are a welcome break from our real lives.” – Simon Sinek
Knowing how to quickly de-stress will make going about your day-to-day life easier, especially if stress and anxiety is a recurring problem in your life. Sometimes, you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to yoga or exercise. For those on the go, trying to de-stress can sometimes be even more stressful! Luckily, experts have come together to point out the best ways to deal with stress and reduce anxiety.
Here Are 5 Important And Effective Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
1. Practice deep breathing exercises
This is a classic method that helps reduce anxiety within minutes. According to Robert Cooper, Ph.D., “Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly.” Perfecting controlled breathing exercises lower blood pressure and allow our bodies to feel calm and relaxed, which can immediately help us de-stress.
The best way to do this is with an exercise known as “Equal Breathing”. When the feeling of anxiety starts to get too much, try inhaling for a count of 4, then exhaling for a count of 4. Do so through your nose, and it’ll help control your breathing and reduce the feelings of anxiety. Continue doing this exercise until you can reach a count of 6 or 8, both inhale and exhale.
2. Just lie down on the floor
While this probably isn’t the best technique for when you’re out and about, this is a good one for when the anxiety and stress trikes while you’re at home. Laying down on the floor allows the body to stretch out and feel grounded. During this time, you can also perform a mental “body scan”, by focusing on each part of your body individually, starting with your feet and working upwards towards your head. Focusing on self-awareness can help reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that you’re feeling and help you focus on overcoming the overwhelming feelings.
3. Focus on an object to help calm your breathing
Quite similar to breathing exercises, focusing on staring at a single object can help calm your breathing, lower your blood pressure and reduce the amount of anxiety and stress that you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to be anything special!
According to Scott McGreal, MSc., “When experiencing day-to-day stress I find it helpful to focus my attention on my immediate surroundings. For example, I may focus on the particular colors and shapes of objects in my environment. Doing this can help shift attention away from “hot” thoughts to “cool” (emotionally neutral) thoughts, to induce a calmer mental state.”
Any old object will do, as long as you’re able to look at it without scanning your eyes up and down. Focusing on the object can help you meditate and calm down your mind and body. You can also pair object focus with equal breathing to really get your body relaxed.
4. Take a break and listen to some music
According to Art Markman, Ph.D., “Music is a great tool for stress relief. Pop in your headphones and listen to something that will transport you somewhere else. And if you can, learn to play a musical instrument and use that as part of your own personal therapy program.”
Listening to music can boost your mood and give you a hit of dopamine. It also works as a great distraction from whatever the current environmental or emotional stressor may be. Listening to music that you enjoy can break your concentration from the stressful situation and allow you time to relax and decompress. You can also pair listening to music with any of the other techniques on the list to get a double hit of relaxation!
5. Smile even when you don’t feel like smiling
Forcing yourself to smile has been proven to reduce the amount of stress that you’re feeling more quickly than if you don’t smile. Not only does smiling automatically release serotonin, it can immediately help with calming you down, reducing your anxiety, and assisting in a de-stressing exercise. It’s also easy, and you can do it anywhere and at any time! No need to set aside a time of day to smile; you can do it whenever you feel the need arise.
Anxiety can sometimes get the better of us, but there’s no reason to let it rule your life. When you find yourself dealing with anxiety and stress, remind yourself of these techniques. Most of them can be done anywhere for a few minutes at a time, so that you can destress and keep moving forward whenever you need to. These techniques will help shift your mood, focus your attention onto your body, and allow you to become more self-aware than you were before. Beating the anxiety can be tough, but it’s easier once you have the tools in your back pocket, ready to use!