Stress and anxiety impact us all. But in some, it can be debilitating.
It’s like a mosquito buzzing in your ear, telling you about all the horrible things that could happen.
It’s a cold dread that weighs you down as you think about everything you need to do.
And high functioning anxiety is feeling all of this while keeping a smile on your face.
If that describes you, just know you aren’t alone.
And there’s hope. There are natural ways to cope with your anxiety and stress, helping to keep you calm without relying on drugs. Although, for some, medication is a necessary part of treatment.
Of course, before you begin or change any treatment or medication, you should speak with your doctor.
In this article, you’ll learn several methods for managing stress and anxiety. Apply these tips, and you may be able to improve your health and quality of life simultaneously.
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How can you manage your stress and anxiety?
Excessive, long-term stress and anxiety can contribute to various health issues, including hair loss, prompting some to explore treatments like spironolactone for hair loss. This stress-induced state can lead to obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Effectively managing your anxiety and stress can improve your life in many ways, including your health, work productivity, and social life.
Below, you’ll find various natural ways to manage stress and anxiety. Use these tips and tricks in your daily life, modifying them to suit your needs.
When you start to feel overwhelmed by stress and feel an anxiety attack is beginning, it helps to ground yourself.
Think of anxiety and stress as a bolt of lightning. When it strikes a building, it can easily fry everything. But buildings’ conductive materials direct electric surges harmlessly into the ground.
You are like the building in our metaphor. So when a bolt of panic strikes, you can bring it under control by channeling the stress and anxiety and directing it safely away.
There are many ways to ground yourself, but we’ll give an example.
Your five senses can be a great way to put you back in the moment and wrestle away the panic trying to pull you out. When panic sets in, identify the things you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
Here’s an example:
- “I see the artwork hanging on my wall. I see the light switch flipped to the on position. I see the white door to my office and the brass doorknob.”
- “I hear the sound of my fan blowing. I hear the birds chirping outside. I hear the garbage truck driving past.”
- “I taste the coffee I drank ten minutes ago.”
- I smell the air freshener I installed yesterday. It smells like lavender.”
- “I feel the cushion of my chair underneath me. I feel the smoothness of the keys on my keyboard as I type. I feel the weight of my phone in my pocket. I feel the softness of the cloth from my shirt settling around my shoulders.”
Doing this should ground you and allow you to think logically through the sudden jolt of a panic attack. As you ground yourself, focus on deep breathing. Take air in through the nose and breathe out through your mouth. Doing this can help bring your heart rate under control as well.
Improve your diet
The quality of your diet can directly impact your mental health. Studies show that people who eat a lot of added sugar and processed foods have higher stress levels and more mental health issues.
So, what can you do to help?
Eat a healthy diet, taking in more whole foods that don’t contain added sugar. Be careful because added sugar can come in some surprising and hidden forms. If you look at a food label and see “high-fructose corn syrup,” “maltose,” or “dextrose,” that’s all added sugar.
Many people are vitamin deficient and don’t know it. Taking a multivitamin daily, and other supplements, can help improve your health and body in many ways, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new routines. Don’t forget to get a doctor’s note if necessary.
Another very useful recipe to combat stress and anxiety is banana bread. Its simple preparation and the soothing scent wafting through the house can create an atmosphere of calm and tranquility. In addition, bananas contain beneficial nutrients such as potassium and tryptophan, which can help improve mood. Alongside this, ensure you drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day, as dehydration can also impact your mood and cognitive function.
When you eat better, you feel better. You have more energy and are more prepared to tackle issues related to stress and anxiety.
To find the right diet for you, consult your doctor or a licensed dietician.
Meditation is a tremendously helpful calming activity that people have practiced for millennia. We can manage long-term stress and anxiety through breathing exercises while clearing our minds and relaxing.
There are many kinds of meditation. One of the most popular is transcendental meditation, which uses a silent mantra to sharpen focus and bring about relaxation. You mentally repeat a word over and over again until you find inner peace.
Meditating for 15 to 20 minutes at the start of every day can reduce stress and help you focus on the tasks ahead.
Yoga and meditation go together, as they both focus on breath control. Yoga also involves movement and stretching, which adds a beneficial physical component to your meditative practices.
You can find guided meditations on the Calm app and Headspace. But there are also many free guided meditation videos on YouTube.
Be more active
Physical activity can help improve your mental health. We already mentioned yoga, but something as simple as walking or swimming can also completely change your mental state. It helps to pull yourself out of the situation causing you to stress and lose yourself in these activities.
Studies show that just two days of aerobic exercise per week can significantly improve your mental state. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle can hurt your mental health and cause you to focus more on what’s stressing you out.
Inject regular physical activity into your routine to help keep your mind clear. That doesn’t mean you must do a Rocky-level montage of hard-hitting sprints and weightlifting. Start simply by going for a walk or riding your bike.
Minimize screen time
While it may feel good sometimes to lose ourselves while scrolling on a smartphone or tablet, studies have shown that these activities in excess can hurt our mental health.
Smartphone reliance or addiction can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms. That’s why it’s important to limit your time on devices and look up occasionally to experience the real world. Use your phone to listen to soothing music and sit with your pet or read a book.
Studies have also shown that simply being in nature and experiencing green space positively affects our mental and physical health. So make sure you get outside for fresh air, take your dog for a walk, or meet a friend for coffee in the park.
Engage in enjoyable activities
If you want to get a handle on your mental health, don’t ignore the activities that bring you joy. We all have hobbies that give us that dopamine hit that we love so much.
For some, it’s playing a sport, like softball or soccer. Others enjoy quieter solitary activities like reading, blogging, or gardening. If you love video gaming, then make sure you’re taking time to sit with your favorite game and unwind. For instance, brain training games have been a timeless source of relaxation and mental stimulation. Websites like Online Solitaire and World of Card Games offer a variety of options that can be played at your own pace, providing a perfect blend of challenge and relaxation. So whether it’s Fortnite Spiderman or a soothing game of Solitaire, remember to prioritize those moments of joy.
You need to take care of yourself if you want your mental health to thrive. Self-care can mean pampering yourself, like with a massage, haircut, or mani-pedi. But it can also be more straightforward, encompassing basic hygiene.
When we’re depressed or anxious, doing simple things like showering or brushing our teeth can be nearly impossible. But by getting up and forcing yourself to do these things, you’ll feel better about yourself and more confident in your actions.
Sometimes a hot shower can be a perfect place to take deep breaths and relax. But the first step toward beneficial self-care is standing up and taking that first step. It can be the most difficult step, but the hard part is over once you do it.
Track caffeine consumption
Look, we get it. Our society practically subsists on coffee and energy drinks. But an overreliance on caffeine can be an anxiety trigger.
Some people can handle caffeine like a champion. For others, it makes them jittery and jumpy. If that’s you, caffeine could trigger your anxiety.
Experiment with the amount of caffeine you consume. Start with one or two cups of coffee in the morning, then try using a fasting kit and relaxing your mind and body for the rest of the day. Caffeine only affects some people for a few hours, while others can feel the effects for a day or more.
After some trial and error, you’ll be able to tell your ideal caffeine level. When in doubt, ask a doctor or a dietician.
Keep pets close by
If you’re an animal person, your pet, like a Johnson American Bulldog, can be a source of comfort that helps lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Studies show that quality time with a pet lowers blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, anxiety, and cortisol levels (a stress hormone). All major wins for pet parents.
If you find that your pet is a source of comfort that effectively manages your anxiety, you may want to have them registered as an emotional support animal. Typically, this involves a letter from a mental health professional treating you.
Many locations allow people to bring emotional support animals with them as long as they have the proper documentation. However, it’s important to note that they do not enjoy the same legal privileges as service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines the differences.
That said, it doesn’t matter if your pet is an emotional support animal or simply your trusted best friend. Spending quality time with them can be a great way to manage your anxiety and stress.
Surround yourself with people you love
When feeling anxious or experiencing a stressful event, surround yourself with people you love. That could mean time with your significant other, kids, parents, siblings, or friends.
It’s possible to take comfort from the people around you, forming an empathic bond that lets you draw emotional energy from the connection you share.
Even if it’s just a quick call to your mom to tell her you love her (Seriously, when’s the last time you did that?). These little moments with the people in your life can be an excellent way to keep your anxiety in check.
Nothing can cause more stress than mounting tasks that are either late or almost late. That’s why procrastination is the biggest enemy of the anxious.
Put yourself on a regular schedule or invest in task management software to help you track what you need to do and when. Even a simple Google Calendar or a tool like Todoist can be helpful here. Just make sure you update it regularly so nothing falls through the cracks.
See a therapist
One of the best ways to manage your mental health is to see a licensed therapist. Having a neutral party to talk with and vent to can benefit anyone.
If you need medication (there’s no shame in that) to work in tandem with therapy, you’ll need to see a psychiatrist. Only an MD can prescribe meds.
But if you’re looking for ways to manage your anxiety and stress without chemical aid, see a licensed psychologist or mental health counselor/therapist. These professionals can help walk you through your darkest moments. They can be literal lifesavers for many.
Anxiety and stress will always be present in our lives. But it’s possible to manage them in healthy ways.
You can also improve your physical health by effectively managing your mental health. Use the tips and tricks outlined in this article to better control your anxiety and stress and live a healthier life.
Remember, for medical advice, always see a medical professional. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or ideation, dial 988 to speak with someone immediately.