5 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Get rid of the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety with these 5 tips.

Like a monster from hiding under your bed, stress and/or anxiety is stealing the peaceful nighttime of many people. Me included.

Anxiety may also be sabotaging your confidence, turning your stomach into knots, and impacting your general wellbeing.

Learn how to remove the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety like I have been doing with these 5 tips:

1. Remember: This won't last forever.

No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress and too much of it can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing.

The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety. Although it's uncomfortable, the negative feelings WILL PASS. Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Its one of natures Paradoxes, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body's natural relaxation response.

2. Learn How to Self-Soothe

When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body's sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This natural survival mechanism -- called the fight or flight response -- is intended to help us to escape a true, life threatening emergency. However, when the threat is imagined (e.g., I'm going to bomb this presentation and everyone will know I'm a fraud), the fight/flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable.

I use a few techniques to help reduce the stress response:

Diaphragmatic Breathing.

One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is by decreasing the heart rate. Since we can't voluntarily alter our pulse, more tangible measures are needed. Luckily, a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly used strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach. You can click the image below to watch a YouTube video on how to do this of you struggle.

Positive Self-talk.

If a child told you he was nervous about going to school the next day, what would you say? Unless your an idiot you'd say something comforting and reassuring. This is because we intuitively know how to help others combat stress sometimes better than ourselves. To increase emotional comfort, it's imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self-talk. When anxious, practice self-talk phrases such as:

"This feeling will pass."

"I will get through this."

"I am safe right now."

"I am feeling anxious now, but I have the power make myself calm."

"I can feel my heart rate slowing down."

If you read my earlier post 5 Steps to Getting Your Dream Body you will know how to take action on small positive steps, don't worry or even think about the steps what come after.

Muscle Relaxation.

Stress causes our muscles to tighten and become tense. To increase a relaxed state and physical comfort, tighten and release muscles beginning with the largest muscle group.

3. Check Your Diet

What we eat and drink largely impacts our emotional state. Foods most associated with anxiety are ones containing caffeine and alcohol. Even consumed in small amounts, studies have found that the stimulating effects of caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability.

Caffeine, commonly found in coffee, cola drinks, tea, and chocolate also causes physical symptoms such as trembling and shaking. Abruptly eliminating caffeine from the diet can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, restlessness, and irritability so it's important to decrease caffeine consumption gradually.

Similarly, although alcohol is often consumed to "take the edge off" it dehydrates the body and ultimately increases anxiety.

An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can also cause many symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. Research has found evidence that the balance of bacteria in your gut may have more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.

Want to know more about balancing the bacteria in your gut?

Get in touch with Gavin King at the Health Shop through his Facebook page.

4. Get Moving

Most of us know that exercise is good for our physical health. For the past few decades, research has suggested that exercise is even more effective than medication. Maintaining a regular (healthy, non-obsessive) exercise routine has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels.

When you exercise at the right level for you, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain causing euphoric feelings and reduction in physical pain.

Though thanks to modern media and myth the majority of people over train or are very mislead and therefore mis-educated in terms of exercise and activity. There is a reason most people give up after 6 weeks or so!

5. Get More Sleep

Nearly everyone feels a little crappy after a rough night's sleep. Disrupted sleep is common in many emotional disorders and it's difficult to know which started first, stress or poor sleep. A study showed that losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion