Feeling anxious? Dealing with a stressful event right now? Try the five stress management relaxation techniques and tips discussed below and your levels of stress and anxiety should decrease (at least temporarily).
Stress Management Relaxation Techniques #1 to 3
- Lay off the caffeine. Caffeine has its advantages but it can also increase heart rate, and contribute to stress. Don’t assume that only coffee contains caffeine! Tea, chocolate, cola, and other sodas and energy drinks are packed with caffeine.
Try herbal teas (also called tisanes or herbal infusions). They come in a large variety of flavors. If you can’t skip your morning cup of coffee or tea, at least go for decaf!
- Live in the present. The buzzword lately seems to be ‘mindfulness’ and it makes sense. There’s no point in worrying about what may happen in the future. Enjoy your current life and don’t worry about problems before they occur.
However don’t be foolish to do things that will create stress down the road! For example don’t splurge on a trip when you know you can’t afford it. But do enjoy your days off without worrying about the problems tomorrow’s workday will bring.
Laugh with your kids and enjoy the small details that make them smile. No kids? Rent a funny movie. Laughing stimulates endorphins, which help reduce stress. You can also learn to meditate, which is a great way to stop the madness and appreciate the present moment.
- Consider the news. The news can be a source of stress for many people. Over 90% of the events discussed during the news are totally out of our control, and many of these events are violent. For most people it’s best to avoid watching the news, especially just before going to bed.
However, there are also people who tend to make a mountain out of a molehill. If you’re one of these people or if you’re simply having a bad day (pimple on your nose, bad hair day, heard a hurtful comment), it may be worth turning on the news for five minutes to hear about real life and death problems. Sometimes a little perspective on life and the scope of our problems can be helpful in reducing stress levels.
How does an upsetting comment from a friend compare to being driven out of your country because of war, famine or worst?
Stress Management Relaxation Techniques #4 and 5
- Accept your anxiety and face it for what it’s worth. If you don’t face whatever stressful event or situation is creating anxiety for you right now, it will resurface later, possibly with a vengeance!
So how do you face your worries?
Write them down. Grab a blank sheet of paper (or two) and list every little thing that causes stress in your life. Keep writing for five minutes or until you run out of things to say.
Then, grab a new piece of paper and review each fear or cause of stress individually. For example if you’re worried about money right now, write “Money” at the top of the page. Then, write down every possible scenarios with its likelihood of becoming true. For example, “Not being able to pay the bills” or “Losing my job”, etc. Next, rate each of these scenarios based on their likelihood of becoming true. Use a 1 to 10 scale where 1 means impossible and 10 means it will definitely happen.
Scenario Likelihood Not being able to pay the bills 4/10 Losing my job 2/10
You’ll notice that many stressful possibilities are unlikely, but you may encounter some that may happen (anything that you rated with 6/10 or above). If this happens, start working out a contingency plan for it. If this dire consequence does come true, it will be a lot less stressful if you’re prepared!
- Make time for sleep and exercise. Getting a good night’s sleep and exercising each day are great ways to limit the impact of stress in your life. Always try to stick to regular schedule. Wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time, seven days a week.
Your body will find it easier to fall (and stay) asleep when it’s used to a regular schedule. If you live in a noisy area, a white noise machine
may help you cover those background noises, which in turn will help you fall asleep faster.
Similarly, plan to incorporate some form of exercise in your daily routine. Some people prefer morning exercise while others make time for it at lunch or after work. The only undesirable option is right before bedtime as exercise increases blood flow, endorphins and energy levels, which you want to avoid right before bedtime. If late evening is your only option, opt for relaxing exercises like some forms of yoga, Pilates, walking or stretches.
I hope these stress management relaxation techniques and tips will be helpful in reducing your anxiety levels.