Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN
Whether you’re stressed to meet a deadline, running late for an appointment, dealing with an unreasonable customer or arguing with a loved one – stress sucks. Tightness in your chest, irritability, increased heart rate and sweating, for those who also deal with anxiety, this can be crippling. Here are a few tools you can implement right now to help manage your stress and keep your anxiety in check.
- Deep Breathing
Most of us are shallow breathers to begin with but when you’re stressed or anxious your quality of breath really suffers. Take a moment to focus on your breathing. Focusing on the breath helps to recenter the body and promotes a relaxed state of mind. Try it next time you feel any anxiety or stress coming on.
- Deep belly breathing – place one hand over your heart and one hand on your belly. Inhale slowly for 5 seconds and exhale for 8. Be conscious to breathe into your abdomen as well as your chest.
- Alternate nostril breathing – place your right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply for at least five seconds, close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat on the left side. Continue for three cycles of breath.
- Express Gratitude
Identify what it is that has you stressed and look for at least one positive outcome that has happened from it, no matter how small. For example, this last week my car battery decided to die on me and I was left without a car – not the end of the world but a hassle when you’re used to the convenience having one brings. Instead of dwelling on it and not going anywhere, I decided this was a good opportunity to get more exercise and movement in and walk to do those errands I might normally drive to. What am I grateful for? Legs that work and get me from A to B!
- Enjoy a Cup of Tea
Something as simple as sipping on your favourite warm bevie can help to calm anxiety. Make sure to skip caffeinated drinks like coffee and black teas. Opt for soothing herbs like chamomile or peppermint for their additional calming effect.
- Positive Affirmations
It may feel foreign and silly at first, but in order to really believe something, you need to retrain your brain with positive feedback. If you’re feeling insecure about something, you actually need to tell yourself otherwise and repetition is the best way to make yourself truly accept and believe these thoughts are the truth. Your positive affirmations are best absorbed by repeating them out loud to yourself every day, but if preferred you can choose to journal these thoughts instead.
Many people who incorporate meditation into their regime choose to begin or end their day with a daily meditation. When meditating for the first time, many people find it a challenge to stay still and relax and may even get frustrated and give up. Start small and take baby steps. Even if all you can do is quiet your mind for a few seconds, be happy with that. Meditation takes time and practice and the benefits are worth it. There are many guided meditation apps out there that make learning to meditate doable (Buddhify).