5 Ways to Help Alleviate Stress
When anxiety attacks, learn how to cope with it
We’ve all been through a lot these past few years. Between the pandemic, economic challenges, and political turmoil, it’s no wonder that there has been an uptick in people dealing with mental health issues.
It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders; that’s about 18% of the population.
The effects of anxiety attacks can range from racing thoughts, feelings of being overwhelmed, and even more physical ailments such as having trouble breathing or chest pains (which are sometimes mistaken for a heart attack). If you have ever experienced any of these, then you know how scary it can be.
There is no magic panacea that will instantly eradicate the effects of anxiety, but there are things that we can do to help calm us until they eventually pass or at least lessen in severity.
There’s a reason that you’ve seen people on television shows say they just need to step outside and get some fresh air. Sometimes, simply removing yourself from a location or situation can have a positive effect on your anxiety.
Breathing the air outside can also in and of itself be helpful. Many people espouse the benefits of breathing exercises to combat anxiety, but I find that simply getting fresh air has a calming effect.
There’s something about the smell of flowers, trees, and rain that’s relaxing and soothing. Maybe there is something to be said for the new-age practice of getting back to the earth?
Listen to Music
Whether it’s Metallica or Simon and Garfunkel, music has a way of centering you, which can be effective in combatting anxiety. Different types of music may work better or worse for different people, but there is something out there for everyone.
I could listen to “Whatever” by Oasis a million more times and it would still retain its ability to put a smile on my face.
One nice thing about modern music streaming services is that you can easily craft playlists. I have a playlist specifically for times when I’m suffering from anxiety, and I’ve found it to be very beneficial.
Take a Bath
I went years without the joy of taking a warm bath. We all lead very busy lives and showers are definitely quicker, but sometimes we need to take a moment to slow down and take a breather.
This can easily be combined with relaxing music for an anxiety-busting super combo of relaxing awesomeness.
I probably would never have bought them for myself, but since we have bubbles for my kid, I use them just about every time. It might seem unnecessary to the unacquainted, but they somehow manage to bring the experience to another level of relaxation.
Go for a Walk or Bike Ride
Some people go to the gym to exercise and some go to blow off steam while exercising. I tend to feel better overall when I’m consistently attending the gym. My favorite time to go was always at night when my local hockey team was on; I could disappear into a game and forget about the world for a while.
During the pandemic though, I had to adapt and get my exercise at home or at a park. I walked around my backyard almost every day while working from home, even throughout the winter.
I walked so much that a clear track formed around the perimeter of my yard. These were particularly stressful times, but taking these walks helped keep me grounded. Whenever I needed time to clear my head or calm down, the backyard was always there waiting for me.
Think About Something You Enjoy
Thoughts of work and finances relentlessly running around your mind? Push them out by thinking about a few of your favorite things (queue the old Julie Andrews song).
When unpleasant thoughts are rampant, try to focus on your favorite memories. Try to remember all of the details from your favorite experience; the challenge of digging up old details will be a welcome change of pace.
I like to think about vacations, both past and future. It’s not always easy to slow down when your mind is running a million miles per hour, but planning your next Disney trip can help thrust your thoughts in a more positive and calming direction.
Deadlines, bills, and performance reviews are replaced with thoughts of Splash Mountain, light shows, and themed restaurants — a benefit no matter your stress level.
It’s hard to predict when anxiety will present itself. Sometimes, there are triggers that we can learn to avoid, but other times it just shows up like an unwanted and unannounced visitor. Having tools at your disposal when anxiety strikes is invaluable.
There may be some trial and error, but finding what works for you is essential in combating this disorder. I hope that you have found this information helpful and are able to put it to good use the next time it is needed.