12 Ways to Cope With Stress and Anxiety
by John Stamoulos - Master Breathwork Trainer
Stress and anxiety are an inevitable part of the territory of being human. At work, at home and in your social life, you are driven by the pressure to fit in, please and be perfect. Not meeting all these expectations can grind away at self-esteem, generate chronic worry and create anxiety about your present situation and your future capability to thrive and succeed.
In the race to keep pace with your life, the demands and unconscious directives to perform can be totally overwhelming, exhausting and damage your health.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation
THE EFFECTS OF YOUR STRESS AND ANXIETY
Physically, your stress can be the source of low energy, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, decreased sexual desire, frequent colds and infections, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, as well as aches, pains and tense muscles.
Long term, your body can begin to develop heart and blood pressure problems, weight issues, skin problems, hair loss, and gastrointestinal disorders. Prolonged stress can even lead to brain shrinkage. A 2012 study by Yale University researchers discovered that high stress could diminish brain size and lead to difficulty with self-control, depression and heart rate.
Mentally, constant worrying can cause you to be disorganized or forgetful. You might also have trouble focusing, just zone out, exercise poor judgment, or become negative and pessimistic about life.
Emotionally, you might find you are nervous, easily agitated, frustrated and moody. Life can feel like it is falling apart and you may over-control to compensate or become depressed, feel lonely or have a diminished sense of self-worth.
Behaviorally, you may find you eat too much or not enough. Procrastination and other avoidance patterns can develop. You might increase your use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. Your anxiety could show up in nail biting, fidgeting or pacing.
TIPS TO MANAGE STRESS
There is no need to be held hostage by the fears, anxieties and thoughts that have triggered your stress. Here are a few strategies you can adopt right now to help:
- Breathe deep – in the moment of stress - use this breath technique to create calm:
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5.
- Exhale from your mouth for a count of 8.
- Reach out for support – get professional help for chronic stress. Consider Breathwork as a powerful healer of repetitive patterns.
- Ask these 3 Questions about the cause of the stress:
- Am I afraid I am not good enough?
- Am I making up ‘what ifs’ in my own thoughts?
- Am I being influenced by someone else’s stress?
- Become aware of your reactions to stressors. Focusing on your behavior can bring perspective and calm.
- Learn to say ‘No’ and learn to negotiate deadlines.
- Manage and organize your time – prioritize and create schedules.
- Exercise – begin a regular routine that works for you and stick to it.
- Eat well and eat healthy – monitor your quantities and don’t skip meals.
- Build confidence in your capability - add new skills and competencies to your education.
- Lighten your load - delegate responsibilities where possible.
- Take a walk in nature –put down your electronic devices. Be silent. Give yourself space to regroup and restore balance.
- Take charge of your thoughts – learn to discern the unnecessary, made-up chaotic thoughts versus what is true. Decide what is important and pay attention to that – let go of the turmoil.
Stress and anxiety do not have to hijack your sanity or rob you of your ability to be happy. When you develop the ability to cope and learn how to quiet your thoughts, it is possible to live with a peaceful approach to the inescapable challenges we face every day in big and small ways.
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