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Stress and anxiety are something we all experience in our lives at one point or another. That gut-wrenching worry feeling that takes you over and has you wound so tight sometimes even you’re not sure how you’re still standing. Anxiety is genuine, and every day its something I struggle to cope with. After my mother passed away when I was a teen, anxiety attacks became very real and very often for me. The long workdays, paperwork deadlines, end dates, and the pressure to find that next job, personal relationships, and financial hardships – stress and anxiety are a part of my daily norm and have been for so long. So, recently, I took to going on a personal wellness journey to help myself find better, more effective ways of coping with these stresses and anxieties.
The next time you feel anxiety strike, start by taking a second to step back, take a deep breath, reflect, and then regain control of the situation. I have found this to be somewhat useful to me. I find my mind likes to race, and I react fast. Patience wasn’t necessarily a virtue I was born with, and responding quickly on impulse is something I am all too familiar with, especially growing up in Boston, where everything tends to be aggressive and fast-moving. Being able to recognize your behavioral patterns, and catching those trigger sources before they go off is not always easy to achieve, but with awareness, focus and the motivation to want to better your mindset, being able to get in front of the anxiety and catch it before it onsets is possible.
“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.”
– William Shakespeare
I have found picking up your cell phone and calling a friend or relative to strike up a random conversation, turning on a light-hearted television show (something from Disney Chanel, Comedy Central or if you want to get specific, That 70’s Show is always a favorite of mine), putting on some of your favorite feel-good dance music, or going for a walk outside to completely change your surroundings and energetic atmosphere are some of the simplest, most effective methods of coping with the daily stress and anxiety throws your way . We as humans feed off energy; we vibe. Getting out of your surroundings and changing up your physical atmosphere will almost instantly help change and better improve your mindset.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP A CLEAR, ANXIETY AND STRESS FREE STATE OF MIND
- Drink lots of water daily and get a good nights sleep of 6-8 hours each night. I think we as people tend to underestimate the power of water and rest. We are not machines, and our minds and bodies need it to help us function properly. They are two essential things to helping keep a clear mind and spirit. If drinking enough water is something you struggle with, consider investing in a smart water bottle like I did which allows you to track your daily water intake and links though an app on your cell phone – mine will even glow to remind me if I am not drinking enough water throughout the day! I chose the Hidrate Spark 3 Smart Water Bottle, which is a great affordable fun option and can be found right on Amazon!
- Keep yourself distracted. Pick up the phone and call a friend or relative to spark up a change of subject conversation to help take your mind off whatever has you feeling like you want to jump out of your skin at that moment. That is always the most effective method for me to deal with anxiety attacks that come on fast. I almost always call my aunt, as she is a safe space and a positive person for me to talk with. She always helps take my mind off of whatever is bothering me and helps me turn my mood around.
- Take a car ride and jam out to some of your favorite music! Sometimes taking yourself out of the present and getting lost in some of your favorite feel-good energetic music is a great way to escape reality and take your mind off the present, giving you a chance to refocus after letting go of all that worked up tension. Car rides tend to be a great stress relief for me because I love to drive. Getting in the car, rolling down the windows, turning up some of my favorite music, and drowning out all of the things that might be bothering me is a beautiful escape day or night!
- Go for a walk outside and focus on the sunshine and your immediate surroundings! Think positive thoughts, and tell yourself whatever it is that has you worked up is only temporary, you got away from it, and then find a way to get in front of that drowning feeling and silence it. I find walking outside in the sun tends to help brighten my mood, especially if your in a workspace without many windows or much natural lighting.
- Eat a balanced diet, filled with lots of fruits and veggies! Eating healthy and feeding your mind foods that are low in sugary fats and high in natural vitamins is an easy way to help keep an overall stronger, happier, healthier mindset. If you feed your body garbage, you will feel like garbage, which weighs on your mental as well as your physical. If you feel good physically, our brains are wired to think more positively too. Being a vegetarian straddling the line of veganism, learning to eat a more balanced diet with less pizza and pasta, and more fruits and vegetables have helped me lead a healthier lifestyle, as cliche as it may sound. So for anyone interested in quick-fix meals and snacks for a healthier lifestyle, I recommend my favorite cookbook Vegan Meal Prep: Ready-to-Go Meals and Snacks for Healthy Plant-Based Eating. It helped me change around the way I was preparing meals at home and has enriched myself and my boyfriend’s overall state of health and well being.
- Getting daily exercise is the best overall thing anybody can do for their health. Taking thirty minutes a day and hitting the treadmill, walking or running outside, or lifting weights are great ways to relieve stress and build your body’s endorphins. Even yoga is a great way to unwind and relax and is something you can do right in the privacy of your own home! Last year I was sitting around at home bored, so I went on demand and tried this yoga video, which I have become obsessed with. Believe it or not, I fell asleep on the living room floor; THAT is how relaxed I was. For anyone genuinely wanting to find some peace and relax, try yoga at home. Yummy Yoga: Gentle Stress Relief for the Hips, Back and Neck was a fantastic DVD I ended up buying when I could no longer get it on demand, and I enjoy it once or twice a week at home in front of my television.
- Talk to a therapist! I have had my therapist for over ten years now, and let me tell you she’s the best. She has become a staple in my life, and I have enjoyed getting to know her, allowing her to get to know me and follow my crazy journey through all the most critical years of growing up. Sometimes it can be great to have someone to talk and vent to that will give you an outside perspective of your situation in a non-judgmental way. A lot of people look at therapy like it is a hindering thing, but I think if you are brave enough to be open and vulnerable with someone new, therapy can help you grow mentally in ways you never thought possible. I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with a lot of stress and anxiety, who might want more assistance in learning to open their minds, organize their thoughts more effectively and find useful coping mechanisms to help ease their daily stress and anxiety and keep a more positive overall mindset.
- SEX! I know this one might seem a little off the beaten path – especially if your significant other is a primary contributing source of your stress and anxiety (haha)! Relationships are work; they are not easy – but sex has been proven to help build endorphins, build confidence, and release tension, helping you to relax. A good bedroom showdown could mean you are walking on cloud nine the next few days, not letting anything negative get in your way! No worries, either ladies, if a man isn’t on the menu right now, there is no shame in getting yourself off, as masturbation can sometimes be even better than sex, allowing you some real alone time and peace to enjoy that climax. For those on the single side of things, Adamandeve.com always has some great toy selections, or if you’re feeling adventurous and want to splurge on something new and exciting, check out Cosmo’s recommendations for 15 of the most Luxury Sex Toys of all time!
I promise, no matter bad things may seem when you’re down and feeling stressed, they will get better. Next time that anxiety is coming on full force try taking a step back to distract yourself, talk to a friend, go for a walk, or even sneak off for that quickie (hehe). It WILL help you better deal with your stress and anxiety as you move forward. It’s how we choose to handle the situations life throws our way that always end up mattering the most in the end. Everything we do as people is based on the choices and decisions we make. Wanting to get in front of your fears and be stronger than that anxious feeling is an admirable quality in any person brave enough to face it. There are many resources out there for people to help themselves learn how to cope better with stress and anxiety – use them! I hope you find the above helpful to you, and if you take nothing more away from this post, know that if you are someone who deals with a lot of stress and anxiety daily, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!