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Effective Ways to Cope with Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are too prevalent in modern life, but the overwhelming feelings created, need not dominate and wreak havoc on your life. Overcoming stress is more straightforward than you think. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has come up with a list of successful coping mechanisms for making depression, stress and anxiety mere inconveniences. Try a combination of the following strategies. 


Time out: When you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, sometimes you need to take a step back. You can try doing yoga, listening to music or getting a massage. Meditating and relaxation techniques can also help ease your mind. When you step away from the problem, you can better clear your head.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine: While they may seem like an easy, instant fix, they can actually aggravate your anxiety or stress levels, and possibly trigger panic attacks. This does not mean that you need to cut the two out altogether. Rather, limit your daily intake to reduce unwanted stress and aggravation.

Get more sleep: A lack of sleep can negatively affect you in the best of health states, but when stressed it can hinder your functioning even more. In fact, you need more rest and sleep when you’re stressed so make sure not to cut back on shuteye.

Deep breaths: Avoid panicking by focusing on your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly. This is an instant relief to an overwhelming feeling.

Eat well-balanced meals: When you’re stressed it seems better to turn to processed snack foods, that give an instant boost. Alternatively, you may also be too busy and might opt to skip meals. But, for health reasons, it’s important not to do this. Eat whole meals and include healthy balanced food choices and keep energy-boosting snacks at hand too.  


Dedicate time to exercise: Keeping your body active can make you feel good and helps maintain your overall health, which can help you fight stress. See below for more fitness tips.


Do your best: A lot of the time we’re too focused on perfect results and this can be unachievable, and immensely stressful. Instead, reset the goal posts and be proud of your redefined success.  


Count to 10: Like breathing deeply, counting to 10, or even 20 can be an instant relief. It sounds childish but simply counting forces you to focus on your breath, and the numbers can briefly distract your rushed or anxious mind.


Perspective: Accept that you are not God and cannot control everything. It’s important to put your stress into perspective. Consider other times you felt stress and weigh up how relative it is. Have you or others you know had it worse before?


Laughter is the best medicine: Another way to put your anxiety into perspective is with a healthy dose of laughter. Welcome humor into your life in whichever way you can.



Positive attitude required: When facing adversity, stress or anxiety it’s vital to maintain a positive attitude. Not everyone is a natural optimist, but choosing to focus on the positive can help drive away, or at least replace, negative thoughts, enabling you to get on with the task at hand.


Get involved: Getting actively involved with your community or a volunteering opportunity allows you to have a break from everyday stress and lend your skills to a worthy cause. It can also help you create a support network.


Pinpoint triggers: Becoming aware of anxiety triggers can really help you figure out the best way to cope and decide if it can be avoided. It might be work, family, a place or person. Write down times you feel stressed and see if you can identify a pattern.


Talk it out: It’s hard to bear stress alone. Talking to somebody, will help offload the stressful emotions. Friends and family can often give you perspective. Seek support on online forums or join a stress support group. For some, seeking a professional who is trained to properly listen is a better option.

Manage stress with fitness


5 x 30 minutes: Fitting exercise into your daily life does not have to take up large chunks of your time. You can break it down into 3 to 5 sessions of 30 minutes per week. You can try things like walking, dancing, biking or even jogging.


Find the fun: The best way to get motivated to exercise is to discover forms of exercise that you enjoy and look forward to doing. Some people enjoy social exercising by taking classes or participating in group sports. Others may find it more pleasant to pursue solo activities.

Small daily goals: Setting a daily target is another way to encourage yourself to keep going. Frequent and consistent exercise is preferable. If you can’t commit to 30 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes will suffice and is better than a 2-hour walk put off until the weekend.


Patience: It’s important to be lenient and patient when you take on a new exercise program. If you are usually sedentary, it can take between 4 to 8 weeks before you get in shape, sufficiently coordinated, and feel the activities getting easier on your body.


Recruit a buddy: Finding a friend or work-out partner can help you stick to an exercise routine and encourage you to keep going. When you’re committed to another person, you can’t find excuses to slack off and this commitment can help you stay focused.


Distraction: If you’re not one for group exercising activities, distracting yourself with other forms of entertainment might work for you. Fill a portable media player with music, podcasts or audiobooks to listen to while exercising. You’re less likely to notice the time if you’re enjoying yourself.

Source: ADAA

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