For many of us, anxiety is an integral part of our daily lives. While medication and therapy are sometimes needed, adopting tips and strategies for better stress management can also make all the difference.
“Anxiety is defined as the feeling of imminent and undetermined danger,” explains Margo Watt, clinical psychologist, associate professor of psychology at St-Francis University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and co-author of Overcoming the Fear of Fear-How to Reduce Anxiety Sensitivity. “This is the body’s way of making it known to prepare to attack or to flee.”
“Although they are often confused,” she adds, “anxiety is different from fear. The latter occurs in reaction to a real threat, for example when one suddenly comes face to face with a bear in the middle of the forest, “adding that the anxiety is more anticipation of this fear. “The anxious person just won’t go to the forest in case they run into a bear.” We are conditioned to anticipate dangers, a reflex that dates back to the days of the caves when our survival depended on our ability to respond to perils.
Nowadays, the bear has been replaced by a host of insidious and recurring stressors, such as traffic jams or overwork at work. Also, we experience constant tension, arising from our mental interpretation of events, which stimulates our nervous system and makes it feel like we are in real danger.
Whether you’re worried about your kids or financial obligations, or even about a “positive” event ahead, like a marriage or a birth, stress is part of everyone’s daily life. According to Margo Watt, anxiety is a normal reaction to this stress; it occurs “when the pressures and demands exceed the capacity to cope with the situation.”
Anxiety, which affects women more than men, becomes a problem when you are unable to put your situation into perspective (what the clinical psychologist calls “catastrophism”, or imagining the worst). We imagine that children are kicked out of school, lost their homes, or that the unborn baby will be afflicted with an incurable disease. The acute anxiety attack, which manifests as shallow breathing, heart palpitations, and crippling distress, is then not far away.
The next stage is an anxiety disorder, which occurs when distress is such that it prevents us from functioning: for example, we are unable to work or have normal relationships. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all considered anxiety disorders, not to mention phobias, which are even more debilitating. Almost four million adults suffer from anxiety disorders in Canada. Here are 14 truths that anxious people understand.
Some people are more susceptible to stress and anxiety than others. If your anxiety is causing distress and preventing you from having normal relationships or doing the things you normally enjoy, you should see a doctor. Mental health professionals, especially psychologists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, can be of great help.
First, consult your family doctor, who will refer you to a therapist or services available in your area. However, the definitive solution to anxiety lies in the ability to manage stress so that in difficult situations it does not fully dominate your life. It is essential to take time to relax each day, even when you have a busy schedule. Margo Watt also advises regular exercise to relieve the energy of anxiety. “Exercise,” she explains, “trains us both physically and mentally to deal with stress better.”
Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
For people prone to anxiety, she also recommends doing deep (or diaphragmatic) breathing four to six times a day. This advice is especially for women who, out of constant concern to tuck in their stomachs, come to breathe only shallowly. shallow breathing sends a panic signal to the body, which exacerbates the state of stress; however, it only takes a few deep breaths to slow the heart rate instantly.
Also practice meditation, which can help bring you back to the present and, therefore, allow you to put things into perspective. “It’s not so much the amount of stress that affects health and well-being, but how you react to stressful situations,” says Pamela Smith, dietitian and wellness counselor.
Learn here to distinguish good stress from bad to make it a productive force rather than a counterproductive one. Among the best tips for stress and anxiety, exercise The best way to overcome feelings of anxiety and combat your stress is to quickly get out of the situation by starting to exercise.
Physical activity keeps the blood flowing and helps release endorphins. Listen to music to calm you down and relax When an anxiety attack strikes or you feel symptoms of stress building up in you, take a few minutes to listen to music you love. The sound of a calming song or something that triggers something positive in you will restore your cortisol levels and you will feel better immediately. Music therapy is a discipline entirely dedicated to the beneficial effects of music on your body and brain.
Coloring to relax and change your mind
Adult coloring books are increasingly popular and are believed by many to be effective in significantly reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress in people with these ailments. Coloring would have much the same effects as a meditation on the body and the brain. It’s a great way to relax, clear your mind, get your heart rate up, and get your blood pressure back to normal.
Avoid being late to reduce your anxiety level and limit sources of stress
One of the most common causes of stress is being late somewhere. We get up late, the children don’t want to hurry, the car is stuck in the snow, roadworks are delaying us… There are many reasons why we can be late. To reduce your anxiety and stress levels, therefore, we must ensure that what is in our power is done so as not to put more on our shoulders. Prepare ahead, wear a watch, use alarms on your cell phone. All of these things can keep you from running and putting pressure on you.
Waking up 15 minutes earlier to better visualize and plan the day
This tip is well known to successful people. Getting up 15 minutes earlier and taking the time to stretch while visualizing the day ahead has indeed been proven to cut stress in half. This allows us to anticipate the challenges that lie ahead and to overcome them with success and a Zen attitude.
Find a job you love to reduce your daily anxiety level
Your work is a huge part of your daily life and your adult life. It is therefore essential that your work is not a stress amplifier in your life. Of course, some jobs are more stressful than others. But not everyone is suited to this kind of life. So make sure that your work contributes to your happiness … and not just to the happiness of your boss!
Avoid situations of misunderstanding and when they arise, clarify the situation
Do you hang around discussions that ended badly at home with you in the evening?
Misunderstandings are a major cause of stress in everyday life. Therefore, avoid as much as possible situations where communications may be misunderstood. Also, if a conversation turns a bit negative, try to sort it out before you end the day. Favor person-to-person conversations rather than those that take place indirectly, through a screen, for example. It’s hard to understand a person’s tone by email or text message. The risks of misunderstanding are therefore much higher.
Take a hot bath to calm down, relax and unwind
At the end of a hard day’s work, nothing better than a nice hot bath to decompress and clear your mind. Over time, if we don’t give ourselves similar moments of attention, stress builds up and quickly turns into anxiety or much bigger health problems. It is therefore essential to take this time for yourself, to relax and unwind.
Watch a comedy to manage your anxiety and reduce your stress
Rent, watch a funny movie and most of all, let yourself be laughed at.
Laughing releases endorphins that help flush out stress hormones, the ones that fuel your feelings of anxiety.
Make others happy to put things into perspective and reduce your level of anxiety
The smile is contagious! To decrease your anxiety and stress levels, be kind to others. Take the time to smile at them, to be of service, to please someone for free. You will feel good and your stress will be reduced. This will help make someone’s day a better place. Which is, in itself, a commendable action worthy of making you proud.
To help you manage anxiety and combat stress, cut back on the sources of caffeine
Caffeine can increase feelings of nervousness and anxiety. Hence the benefit of consuming moderately when you are going through stressful times. Important sources of caffeine include chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and some prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Take advantage of the public transport trip to relax and unwind
Speaking of alternative means of travel, here is another benefit of not using your car to commute to work every day. The time you spend on public transport could be used to read a good book, keep up with the news, catch up with your loved ones, listen to your favorite music or even organize your work day to make the rest easier. of your day! So kill two birds with one stone!
Go to bed early to calm down and reduce your anxiety level
Lack of sleep is not recommended for people who suffer from anxiety and stress. Fatigue tends to increase stress symptoms or even cause more frequent panic attacks. For restful sleep, scientists recommend going to bed early, since the sleep cycles most suitable for rest occur before midnight.
Learn to say no to limit sources of stress and thus better manage your anxiety
When you are asked too much, at work or home, you have to be able to say no. Your family is counting on you to throw the Christmas party this year, but don’t have time? Does your boss ask you to work overtime? Do your kids ask you to coach the soccer team on the weekends? You need to be able to set your limits and explain to those around you that you need to take care of yourself too.
Leave your mobile aside to relax and reduce your anxiety level
During an activity with family or lovers, get away from your cell phone and make the most of the moment. Nowadays, our cell phone is present everywhere, in our working relationships, in our interpersonal relationships as well as in our moments of relaxation. To reduce anxiety and stress, it is important to be able to cut through these elements by putting away your cell phone. This is to avoid that work and everyday problems follow us at all times.
Planning your financial future well to reduce sources of anxiety
Money is the biggest source of stress for most people. Indeed, experts have noted that most panic attacks in at-risk patients occur when hardship affects them financially. To manage your level of anxiety, it is therefore important to plan your financial future well and try to find yourself in a precarious situation as little as possible.