Are you feeling anxious, stressed or worried? Or all of the above? I’m pretty sure you’re not alone. I will spare you the statistics but suffice it to say that many of us are experiencing one or all of these in our lives currently. These concepts are often confused. They are certainly BFFs but let’s explore how they are different.
- Stress is a physiological response connected to an external event. Stress happens in your body and is generally a short-term experience.
- Anxiety is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. It happens in your body and your mind. It tends to be somewhat diffuse, and it doesn’t fade into the distance once a threat is mediated.
- Worry occurs when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong.
Stress, anxiety, and worry actually serve a good purpose if they’re not experienced in excess. They push us to make necessary changes in our lives. They signal when we may be in danger and inspire us to take action. However, too much of these things can negatively impact our minds, bodies, and overall health.
So, what can you do if you are suffering from an excess of stress, anxiety and/or worry? Below are twelve habits that can help you get back on track.
- Get enough sleep: Most adults require at least seven to eight hours to be well rested and perform at their best.
- Exercise regularly: Find at least 30 minutes, three times a week, to do something physical. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet: Healthy eating fuels your mind as well as your body. And skipping meals isn’t a good idea as regular nutrition will help regulate your mood.
- Avoid caffeine and sugar: Avoid consuming too much caffeine and sugar. In excessive amounts, the temporary “highs” they provide often end in fatigue or a “crash” later.
- Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or drugs: While consuming alcohol and drugs may appear to alleviate stress, it is only temporary. Don’t mask the issue at hand. Deal with it head-on and with a clear mind.
- Practice relaxation techniques: These activities dial down the body’s reaction to stress. Relaxation techniques include meditation, prayer, yoga, deep breathing, guided imagery and tai chi.
- Do something for yourself every day: Take time from the hustle and bustle of life for leisure time, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
- Have realistic expectations: Know your limits and be realistic about what you can do. Learn to say “no” to work and commitments that don’t fit in with your priorities.
- Reframe problems: See problems as opportunities through which you can learn and grow.
- Don’t try to control events or other people: Many circumstances in life are beyond your control, particularly the behavior of others. Learn to accept what is, for now, until the time comes when perhaps you can change things.
- Ask yourself “Is this my problem?”: If it isn’t, leave it alone. If it is, try to resolve it and, once it is settled, leave it alone. Don’t agonize over the decision and try to accept situations you cannot change.
- Connect with others: Develop a support system where you can share your feelings. A friend, family member, teacher, clergy person or counselor may help you see your problem in a different light.