Struggling with stress and anxiety is a common experience in today’s society. Many people report feeling stressed and overwhelmed frequently due to personal or professional factors. The effects of stress and anxiety on mental and physical health, in the short and long term, are very worrying. Students, new parents, workers, and many people of all ages experience stress levels that affect their health, mental clarity, and well-being.
Here are four ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
1. Find Time for Yourself
A major cause of stress and anxiety is a hectic lifestyle. Staying busy can make you feel accomplished, but it is not necessarily healthy. Everyone needs downtime to unwind. When you refuse to give your mind and body the chance to relax, your cortisol levels go through the roof.
What calms you down? What activities put you in a relaxed and peaceful state of mind? Each person would probably give different answers to these questions. Some find yoga or swimming relaxing. Others find smoking relaxing.
Many cannabis smokers report that the drug decreases their stress levels, reduces their anxiety, and improves their mood. A possible explanation is that cannabis plants contain up to 40% CBD, a powerful anti-inflammatory with direct effects on the central nervous system. Unsurprisingly, many states have legalized cannabis after considering its health benefits. If you smoke recreationally, purchase high-quality smoking accessories for an enhanced experience.
2. Get More Physical Activity
Not only that many people don’t move enough to maintain optimal health, but they also don’t spend enough time outdoors. An excellent way to combat stress and anxiety is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week. Adding regular exercise to your routine can help you stay healthy and happy. The explanation is simple: physical activity releases endorphins, also known as feel-good chemicals, in your brain.
Any activity that challenges your body and forces you to spend time outdoors will significantly improve your mood and lower your stress levels. Examples are walking, cycling, swimming, and hiking. Working out at home or going to the gym is also highly effective, but keep in mind that outdoor activities provide extra benefits.
3. Nurture Your Social Connections
Dealing with stress or anxiety is significantly easier when you have strong social and emotional support. Being able to speak with family and friends about your concerns can be enough to make you feel better. Socialization plays a fundamental role in helping us regulate our emotions.
Many studies have proven over the years that people with low levels of support experience high levels of perceived stress and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Spending time with people you love is thus essential.
Conversations, laughter, physical touch, and other social or intimate experiences release oxytocin in the brain, the bonding hormone that makes us feel connected with others. Oxytocin has powerful anti-stress effects, lowering cortisol levels and reducing blood pressure. With all this in mind, it is easy to see why not reserving time for social activities can backfire.
4. Make Changes to Your Environment
The environment where you live, work, or spend your free time can be a reason why you struggle with stress and anxiety. If your environment triggers negative feelings, it’s time to make some changes. Start by evaluating your situation. What are the factors that could be leading to stress and anxiety?
A cluttered home, noise or air pollution, and poor sleep conditions are aggravating factors when it comes to stress. Tight deadlines, lack of safety policies, toxic management, and long working hours can explain why you experience heightened stress levels at work. Although identifying your triggers can be challenging, it’s an essential step for regaining control over your mental and physical health.
Small improvements in your environment can help you combat stress and anxiety. Is your home a safe, tranquil, and cozy space where you can relax and take your mind off work? Is your office a comfortable and productive space? How well do you communicate with your family members, coworkers, or managers? Do you protect your boundaries? Do you ask for help? Reflect on these aspects to determine if your environment helps you thrive or, on the contrary, brings you down.
Medical experts call stress “the silent killer” because it can wreak havoc on the body in the long term. To protect yourself, develop coping mechanisms based on your lifestyle, preferences, energy levels, and schedule. What works for someone else might not work for you, so take the time to find the things that bring you real value.