After years of dealing with intense stress, anxiety and panic attacks, I consider myself somewhat of an expert is trying new ways to manage my stress levels.
And no, it’s not easy. In fact it can be really hard, but with constant attention and work it can become easier to manage. Here’s some things I highly recommend to help you manage your stress levels.
Hit the pavement
Throw on your sneakers and hit the pavement – walk, jog, skip, cycle. Personally, I prefer walking at a steady pace to assist with relaxation and easy breathing.
To stop it from becoming such a chore:
- Load a variety of music to suit every mood on to your device,
- Invest in a good, supportive pair of sneakers,
- Mix it up every few days by taking a different route, or
- Take your dog, friend or partner with you. It will be good for them, and why not use it as a chance to spend time together and talk!
Chill out to your favourite tunes
I find listening to beautiful music a great way to distract the mind and decrease the anxiety levels.
I’ve recently rediscovered a lot of music I listened to as a teenager and in my twenties, which soothes my anxiety beast. I’ve also been searching for new music, and have discovered a love for old blues and jazz (the smooth kind, not the loud, shrieky kind).
When I’m driving, instead of listening to the radio when driving around town – as the ads irritate me so – I pop in a CD or plug in my iPhone, select shuffle, and wait for the song selection to surprise me 🙂 – I drive an old car, so no blue tooth or fancy synching stuff.
Practice daily gratitude
Keep a daily gratitude journal, this way it will soon become ingrained in the way you think and you will have a wonderful record of gratitude to look back on. Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.
Talk to someone
Sure, it may be the last thing you feel like doing, but talking about it will stop the replay in your head and, well, get it out of your head!
And remember, there is nothing wrong with talking to a professional or using a help line. That is what they are there for, and sometimes talking to someone your don’t know / anonymity is good.
Let go of control
Accept that you have no control over what anyone else thinks, interprets or says. Remember, you only have control over what you think, interpret and say.
I find meditation hard as I either forget to do it, can’t sit still, have too many things to do, or complain that I’m time poor. To be honest, if you have time to check into Facebook every day, you (and me) have time to meditate. I find that when I do do it, it is always worthwhile.
It’s again about forming that habit, which is where I find Meditation iPhone Apps or Podcasts extremely helpful. I like Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, an iPhone application in the form of a guided meditation with the intention of helping you overcome insomnia and get to sleep. You can purchase it on iTunes for $2.99.
I also love the podcasts by Meditation Oasis. I’ve got their channel loaded on to my iPhone so that I can select for the most relevant one foe how I am feeling and the time of day.
Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up rather than drag you down or into a constant state of drama. If that means changing friends, or not talking to someone, than so be it. It is your mental health we are concerned about!
Write it out
In the same realm of talking about it, get whatever is worrying you out of your head!
Here’s some things to try:
- Write an email to someone (or to no one),
- Buy a notebook or journal and carry it with you so that in moments of downtime when you are prone to over-thinking you can write.
- Write an old school letter.
- Start a blog. It worked for me, and has worked for so many other people. You can even keep it private.
- If you prefer to type, but want to keep a journal, download a journal app on to your PC. I’ve used Day One. Personally I like a good old paper journal and pen 🙂
- For those who want to old-school write, find yourself a decent pen.
Stuck for something to write about. Try some of these journal writing prompts.
Learn to live in the now
There is such power in learning to live in the now. Yes, once again it’s a hell of a lot easier said than done. Living in the now actually takes a lot of practice.
Discovering mindfulness and making it part of your day helps a lot. There is growing scientific evidence that shows there are a raft of physical and mental health benefits to practicing mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness training has been shown to clinically reduce symptoms of anxiety, psychological distress and secondary depression (Kabat-Zinn, et al. Am. J Psychiatry 1992). These changes were maintained at 3-year follow-up (Miller et al. Gen. Hosp. Psychiatry 1995).
And then there’s yoga, which really helps to strengthen the mind / body connection, training you to focus on one move and one breath at a time.
For those who love reading, ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle is a great book / resource. I found The Power of Now a great read help guide me to ‘train‘ my mind to switch off and focus on being in the NOW.
Are you worrying because you are doing something you don’t want to do? Are you doing things for others but not for yourself? Do you believe the world is against you and that your life sucks? Or are you stuck in a cycle of procrastination and worry? There’s only one thing to do for that. Take action and change your life. If I can do it – and believe me when I say I have experienced more than my fair share of sucky life-moments – then you can to. So get on with it – you can do it! Here’s a little something that might help.
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