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April 17, 2018

Seven effective ways to chill when you’re feeling anxious

Mental Health Stress

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Anything can be a trigger for stress — family tensions, issues at work, or even something as simple as getting stuck in traffic. When these feelings of anxiety surface, it can be difficult to relax your mind and center yourself in the moment. But don’t fret; there are several ways to manage stress and its symptoms. Next time you’re feeling on edge, chill out with one of these stress-relieving methods:

1. Deep Breathing

Developing deep breathing techniques and utilizing them as soon as stress sets in can drastically reduce anxious feelings. This effective solution allows the body to increase its intake of oxygen and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a state of calm awareness.

2. Exercise

When you feel that nervous tension starting to take hold, get a move on to calm your body and mind. As weird as this may sound, putting physical stress on your body can actually help relieve mental stress. Endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, are released during physical activity, which improves your mood and promotes a sense of general well-being.

3. Laugh

It’s true what they say — laughter really is the best medicine. It’s a natural remedy for anxious feelings, as it helps to boost your mood, reduce pain, protect the heart, burn calories, and improve your immune system. Even in the most difficult situations, a good laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better.

4. Get More Sleep

As anyone who has spent the night tossing and turning can attest, a lack of sleep can cause serious anxiety. To make matters worse, stress itself interrupts our sleep patterns, making the act of dozing off more difficult. Combat sleepless nights by taking steps to calm your mind in the hour before you hit the sack. Take a bath or read a book to wind yourself down while also establishing a predictable routine your body will recognize by going to bed at the same time every night.

5. Meditate

Meditation and deep breathing go hand in hand, and combining the two can greatly diminish feelings of anxiety before they become overwhelming. The best part? This stress management method can be performed nearly anywhere (though the environment should be as calm and quiet as possible). Begin by sitting or lying in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing. Maintain this process for a few minutes to start, and then try longer periods as you get more comfortable with it.

6. Listen to Music

Listening to music can have a powerful effect on your stress level and emotional state. Studies show that music significantly reduces emotional distress, and can even be used to ease anxiety before and after a hospital patient has surgery. While music preferences vary from person to person, particularly slow songs, or classical music, elicit the most calming results. Music can even be incorporated into meditation or serve as a sleep aid.

7. Chew Gum

Believe it or not, chewing gum has been shown to decrease anxiety, improve your mood, and even increase alertness and blood flow to the brain. This quick fix is a cheap and easy way to moderate anxious feelings in the short and long term. Studies show that regular gum-chewers experience lower levels of stress, as well as higher sustained memory function. Just be sure it’s sugar-free!

Mild feelings of anxiety are a byproduct of simply living life. The good news is they don’t have to derail your entire day. Committing to stress management methods can yield long-lasting results, and by regularly practicing these time-tested techniques, you’ll be able to chill out when the going gets rough.

Looking for more ways to chill? Try Mindfulness Meditation: Every Thursday at Independence LIVE

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