I’m always thinking of ways to feel more relaxed and to reduce stress and anxiety in my everyday life. I’ve found that exercise is the best way for me to wear out my brain and body. I notice my anxiety levels rise when I haven’t been active for a long time.
I reached out to Dr. Jesse Hanson, Clinical Director & Co-Founder, Helix Healthcare Group for more tips on how to reduce stress and anxiety and here’s what he shared with me:
It’s not possible to eliminate all stress from our life, but it is possible to change how we respond to stress. First and foremost, we should consider stress as not something that happens to us, but a product of how we relate to our day-to-day environment.
If stress is understood as a result of your relationship with the world around you, then you have more influence over your part in the relationship. Here are 5 ways to reduce stress and anxiety:
1) Be mindful of Your Breathing
In the same way anxiety can lead to quickened breathing, improper breathing can contribute to anxiety. If you breathe deep, you won’t be able to get anxious! To eliminate stress, set a daily reminder on your phone to spend a minute every day (or twice a day) to focus on deep breathing.
Imagine the breath coming up your spine so when you inhale you get taller. Then imagine the exhale down your spine to become more grounded and centered. Eventually the deep breathing will become a healthy habit!
Here’s a myth buster: morning meditation doesn’t require you to stay seated! We have all heard of the benefits of meditation, but a lot of people think of it as synonymous with ‘stillness’, intense relaxation or even a ‘blank mind.’
There are various forms of moving meditation that can be done anywhere anytime – even at the workplace! Look into popular moving meditation techniques such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, ZaZen and more. Here’s a waking meditation track you can do from anywhere.
3) Shake it Off
Take a tip from the animal kingdom, and shake it off. Literally! Think of your body as covered in water then shake it all off, from head to toe. There is clinical research that shows when animals shake it out; the nervous system goes back into balance.
4) EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique
Tap, tap, tap! Emotional freedom technique is a psychological acupressure technique that is used to reduce negative emotions. Studies show that tapping energy points on your body in combination with voicing positive affirmations can clear an emotional block, even helping to cure physical ailments.
5) Meet with a Psychotherapist
In psychotherapy, we look at how our perceptions to stress are often a result of our nervous system being overwhelmed. We explore the root causes of why the nervous system is overwhelmed and from there we can recommend which practical tools might work best for you.
Bonus tips from Carmen Littlejohn, Psychotherapist at Helix!
6) Get Out in Nature Once a Day
A walk in nature has shown to reduce cortisol (stress) levels. If you do it first thing in the morning it also burns more calories.
7) Allow yourself to be selfish once a week
Even if it’s just for a couple of hours – going for a walk, planning a spa day, getting a massage can help reduce stress.
8) Have a Girls Night
Plan a fun social adventure. Hanging out with close girlfriends boosts your oxytocin levels, which is the same hormone that is increased during hugs, sex and close encounters. In other words, it will leave you feeling great!
How do you use reduce stress and anxiety?