We’ve all been there, sweaty palms, a pounding heart, a churning stomach. Stress can get the better of anyone at any time. However when it starts getting in the way of your day-to- day life (insomnia, panic attacks etc) it can be really hard to shake without medical help. The common medication prescibscribed for anxiety are typically antidepressants which depending on the prescription, diagnosis and symptoms can have serious side effects and despite a high effectiveness rate many people are reluctant to take medication like this because of the stigma of taking an ‘anti- depressant’. Sometimes the hardest part can be distinguishing between solvable and unsolvable worries, but to someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder this line is blurrier than most people’s. If the idea of medication doesn’t appeal to you there are many natural stress alleviators to be considered first.
Take a deep breath
It sounds silly, but taking a big deep breath and a step back is the first and foremost way to learn to control your anxiety. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth in a typical ‘from the diaphragm’ or yoga ‘cool down’ technique. If you have tried these and they aren’t always effective, try a more specific breathing technique like this one.
Avoid unnatural stress relievers
This means alcohol, excessive caffeine, ciggies and dare I say it, drugs. These will only aggravate symptoms although they will seem like temporary alleviations from the initial onset of stress. It’s easy to come home at night after a long day, pour yourself a big glass of red and smoke a cigarette on the back door step, but try to stop yourself. Alcohol is a natural depressant, and will only make you feel worse in the long run.
Unfortunately, most exercise isn’t fun, otherwise we’d all being doing it, and Britain wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. “YAY lets go on the elliptical!” said no- one, ever.
But when it comes to stress there really is NO better cure than a short burst of exercise each day, even if it’s only a 20 minute run. I find pilates both a strengthening workout for the muscles and great for regulating your breathing pattern. Particularly if you are a sufferer of panic attacks. Something like yoga, pilates or swimming can be great in this instance, as anything too cardiovascular can lead you to feel out of breath and even more panic stricken, so take it easy. Just a ten- minute jog or brisk walk can burn up to 250 calories and get the blood flowing. If you suffer from insomnia as a consequence of stress, this is also a great way of tiring yourself out.
Find a work/ life balance that suits you
If you are a long term sufferer of stress, you should think about a career change. If you work long hours, night shifts or erratic shift patterns these could make your ability to adapt anxiety relieving techniques into your lifestyle very difficult.
Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. I find all that empty head space a little intimidating (and frankly a little lame), but for some people, it’s the only way they can find a peaceful moment in their otherwise hectic day. It is something you should understand the basic practises of however, so don’t be afraid to do your homework.
Catch some Z’s!
Experts say we need about 8 hours to function normally on a day to day basis. Sleeping problems can be tackled without medication but it is something you should consider. Sleepless nights can cause irritability and can prevent you from getting on with the day normally, there are many yoga and relaxation stretches designed to chill you out pre- bed time but also a range of great herbal medications on the market.
What are your best stress relief tips? Whats your favourite way to relax? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments box below!