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Tips for dealing with anxiety and stress

 

The number of people suffering from anxiety and depression has unfortunately sky-rocketed even in just the last ten years, as they lack anxiety coping skills (tips for dealing with anxiety).

World events, ever-increasing demands to live fast-paced, non-stop lives, social media tends to make people compare their lives to others, times of recession – all of these and more are likely culprits for why so many individuals now find themselves wrestling with the beast of anxiety. So, how to deal with anxiety and stress?

But there is hope and there are methods you can begin right now to help you cope with anxiety when it comes. If you want to know how to control anxiety attacks and how to get rid of anxiety naturally, keep reading as we review simple tips you can do at home.

Then whether you want to find success and not using the anxiety self-help tips for dealing with anxiety without medication, you should still consider talking with a therapist to help ensure a proper foundation for staying mentally healthy and strong.

As a qualified clinical hypnotherapist and cognitive behaviour therapist, I have helped many people learn how to deal with anxiety attacks even without the use of medication. You can schedule your free 30-minute session with me to discover how hypnotherapy could help you learn how to overcome anxiety and depression in your life.

How to Overcome Anxiety and Fear

For those who wish to avoid the often potentially harmful depression and anxiety medications, there are options. Many have found themselves capable of dealing with anxiety without medication when they practice some of these mental exercises and habits (anxiety coping skills list).

Try one or all to see which ones help you overcome your anxiety:

  • Exercise: physical exercise has incredible physical AND mental health benefits. When you exercise, the brain releases chemicals and hormones that cause relaxation and feelings of well-being and happiness. Physical exercise also decreases stress hormones and helps the body get rid of toxins that could be contributing to an overall sense of poor physical and emotional health.
  • Self-soothe: when you feel anxiety coming on, learn methods to soothe and calm yourself down, such as:
    • Remind yourself that you will be okay and that this anxiety will pass – it won’t stick around indefinitely
    • Practice deep breathing and count as you breathe. The action of deep breathing does actually soothe the brain and counting will distract your thoughts from dwelling on your fears
    • If someone came to you about fears or anxiety, odds are you could think up a couple of phrases of encouragement and comfort. Do the same for yourself, instead of feeding your anxiety with negative thoughts.
  • Avoid anxiety-inducing foods and substances: unfortunately, there are many substances in the average diet that can instigate or contribute to anxiety. These include caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is contained in foods and drink such as coffee, sodas, tea, chocolate, etc. and can trigger panic attacks, trembling and shaking. Having a healthy diet, in general, will also contribute to a healthy gut, which studies have discovered is very important for mental health. So try cleaning up your diet in multiple areas.
  • Journal: many times, keeping our fears and anxieties in our heads causes them to perpetuate and keep us from being able to move on. But when we write things down, our minds tend to relax and allow them to be let go more easily. To that end, start a journal where you write out your fears and anxieties. This will help your mind to stop fixating on them and could also help the more logical part of your brain see that these fears are often unwarranted. Also, keep a journal for positive things or a gratitude journal. Spend time every day writing about good things that happened and that you are thankful for.
  • Distract: while an anxiety attack often makes us want to be alone, that is actually the least helpful thing, as it gives us room to fixate and be consumed by our fears. Instead, distract yourself. If you can, go out with friends, go to that event you had planned, or even turn on a comedian’s podcast or show. Do something that distracts and redirects your thoughts.

It is OK to Seek Help

While there are many methods to controlling your anxiety at home, if you are struggling to figure out how to deal with anxiety attacks and fear in your life, there is no shame in seeking professional help.

If you feel like you need a boost in your journey to overcoming anxiety, contact me to arrange your free 30-minute consultation today.

10 Signs That You Could Be Suffering From Stress

sign of stress, anxious person, stress ball, hypnosis for anxiety

Many of us suffer from stress at certain times of our lives. Often it will be a response to a tangible trigger such as being overworked or worrying about a family member or friend. Generally when the cause of your stress is removed, i.e. work returns to more acceptable levels, or that friend or relative’s issues are resolved, your stress also dissipates.

However, many of us are under pressure constantly, living our lives in an almost permanent state of stress, and this is not good for our long-term physical or mental health. It also may mean that events that should be pleasurable can add to your stress levels, for example,

Christmas, a wedding or a pregnancy, making you feel that you can’t cope and enjoy the moment.

Could You Be Suffering From Stress?

Our mind and body are constantly sending subtle signals to each other that we’re under pressure and feeling stressed, but often we don’t recognise them, perhaps blaming other factors such as a late night or eating something that disagreed with us. However, these are the signs we should all be aware of so we can take action before they escalate.

Just as you listen to your body when you’re hungry or thirsty, listen to your body and mind when it says you’re stressed. Here are some of the physical and emotional symptoms you may experience:

  1. Sleeplessness,
  2. Migraines or severe headaches,
  3. Aches and pains,
  4. High blood pressure,
  5. Bursts of irritable agitation, short temper and annoyance,
  6. Out of breath,
  7. Tiredness,
  8. Tummy problems such as constipation, gas, pain, diarrhoea or heartburn,
  9. Feeling emotional,
  10. Anxious and feeling low (hopelessness).

If you recognise these symptoms, or perhaps you think a family member or friend could be suffering from stress, it’s time to take action.

Do you take care of yourself or regularly ignore signs of your stress? How do you identify your triggers that you are stressed? What causes you to get stressed and how do you deal with it? Sometimes when you feel stressed you may manage it with over the counter medication or perhaps alcohol; many people find a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day at work or looking after young children at home a welcome respite. These may work in the short-term, but they don’t address the underlying causes of stress or help you find ways to manage it long-term.

Of course removing the source of stress is one solution but not always feasible. You can’t necessarily quit your job or abandon your family! While avoiding situations that trigger severe stress attacks can buy you some time to get stronger, it may not be a tactic that’s sustainable. For example, if you avoid confrontation in a relationship because you find it stressful it won’t be helping the relationship overall, as problems do need to be aired and resolved openly. Similarly, if you avoid stressful elements of your job, you could be creating problems for your employer or colleagues and not fulfilling your contractual responsibilities.

So if you know that you need help managing your stress, or perhaps a family member or friend could do with some support, here are a few techniques that you can introduce into your daily routine.

Stress Busters

  • Try something different than you normal routine e.g. go for a walk, a new activity, exercise etc.
  • Relaxation exercises are done each day will help so you can calm your mind and body and have some fun in the process. This works when you create a balance between doing things that you enjoy and that gives you a sense of accomplishment, helping you connect and bring you closer to other people too.
  • Mindful breathing techniques and meditation,
  • Relax with some music that you can listen to, dance to, or exercise with,
  • Try grounding techniques hold an object that brings you comfort – see, smell and hear the comforting thoughts,
  • Positive imagery and self-talk,
  • Pamper yourself – spa days or days out with friends,
  • Look after yourself – eat healthily, drink less coffee and more water, sleep well, exercise a few times a week,
  • Write your SMART goals down and feel the sense of achievement when you succeed with some of them, increasing your dopamine (a neurotransmitter) levels. Also, weekly activity increases your serotonin levels making you feel calmer,
  • Connect and enjoy your friendships and relationships increasing your oxytocin level (a neurotransmitter) and promoting a sense of well-being,
  • When you do feel low distract yourself and do more enjoyable activities, not activities that drain your energy,
  • Last, but not the least, consider whether Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with clinical hypnotherapy could help you manage stress and cope with the mental and physical symptoms.

CBT with hypnosis looks at ways of improving your physical and mental well-being by changing the way you respond to specific triggers, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts or feelings of being overwhelmed, and providing you with the strength to address stress before is escalates.

You may also like to read How To De-Stress At Work

How To De-Stress At Work

de-stress at work, work overload, stressed at work

 

Modern life today is full of demands, money worries, insecurities and frustrations.  Stress is a common place for many people dealing with life’s daily anxieties. While a certain amount of stress can keep you safe from danger and motivate you to do your best, it can also overwhelm people.

Stress overload can cause long-term damage to your health, reduce the quality of your life, and affect your mood and relationships. When someone gets stressed, the body releases a chemical called cortisol, causing a racing heart, increased blood pressure and respiration, tension in your stomach area and sweaty palms. While most healthy people can cope with this on an infrequent basis, if you experience this level of stress regularly it can result in physical, mental and social problems.

Research suggests that you can make a real difference to your wellbeing by understanding your stress response. This is about recognising the signs and symptoms of your stress overload and taking adequate steps to curtail any adverse effects. It’s the story you tell yourself when you are stressed, shifting your thinking from ‘I’m overwhelmed, I can’t cope’ to ‘I will do my best and get support’, that will make a significant improvement to your life.

Managing Workplace Stress

How you interpret your stress response can make a big difference to how you manage to de-stress at work or manage other stressful times in your life. When you feel your heart pounding and palms getting sweaty, make the choice there and then… you can choose to say ‘I am so very stressed and thinking about being stressed is making me more anxious and scared.’ Or you can say to yourself ‘Here we going again. I can feel the anxiety rising …but I am in control now and let me take a few deep breaths and calm down’.

Concentrate On Your Breathing

Taking control of your breathing is a powerful way to alleviate stress. Not only will it help to lower your pulse but it will also send vital oxygen to all the areas of your body, especially critical areas of your brain. This resets your nervous system and oxygenates the parts your body that needs it.

Here’s how:

Take a deep, relaxing breath …. Place your hand on your stomach and draw a deep in breath. Your hand will move in and out, and so will your chest.

Inhale for 5, hold for 2 and exhale for 7. Repeat and count with the calmness you feel …its one of my favourite counts.

But you need to practice, practice and practice. Either five minutes or fifteen minutes every day: here and there and build yourself up for long-term benefits. I usually start my day with a single meditation with 5 of those 5-2-7 deep in breaths, practice this a few times during the day 5-2-7 and before I go to bed its 5-2-7 again.

Practice makes this permanently imprinted in your mind, so when you do recognise your stress response and need to use this breathing technique, it’s second nature.

‘Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle’ Bill Phillips.

Quirky Stress-Busting Strategies

While we need to have some effective methods for dealing with stress like the deep breathing technique outlined above, it would be better to prevent your stress response to start with. Here are just a few ways that you may, or may not, use in your workplace to combat stress:

  • Could a weekly sing-along be an effective way of boosting morale and de-stressing in your workplace? Or would you find it too bizarre, and potentially stressful, having to join in with everyone in the office? You decide!
  • A survey by Staples found that 1 in 7 people use colouring books to de-stress at work. Crosswords and Sudoku can also help, providing a much need screen break and chance to focus on something other than work for a short period of time.
  • What about a furry friend in the workplace? Some companies have an office dog, aka Chief Happiness Officer, on hand to sooth stressed employees with a cuddle or available for a stroke or pat on demand. There is plenty of research on how pets can help alleviate stress, so introducing an office dog could be a good move.

These strategies are quirky but do provide a distraction in the workplace and research suggests that they do provide stress-busting benefits. If anything it allows for a break from the desk, ability to stretch and relax, the time-out from the screen, mindfulness moments and boosts happiness.

For me personally, I love the dog running around the office and use a colouring book in order to alleviate my stress at work – though I may give the weekly sing-a-long a miss. However, they don’t work for everyone as we all react to stress in different ways.

This is why it’s important for us all as individuals to understand how we react to stress; from understanding what causes the stress in the first place, to managing our stress response and learning to deal with it in a positive way.

As a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist I work with people to help them break the negative cycles of thinking, how this makes them feel, and then the behaviour that follows. The result is that they learn how to manage their stress response so that it doesn’t impact adversely on their wellbeing or their work. In fact, it can help them use stress in an empowering way, teaching them to recognise the signs early and put practical plans into action – such as prioritising tasks, delegating or seeking support.

What plans does your company have to alleviate workplace stress?