Battling anxiety for years means I’ve spent a copious amount of time, effort and even money trying to figure out ways and means to de-stress, making me somewhat of an expert (or so I like to think). I’ve found out what works for me through a tedious game of trial and error, which has lessened the strength and length of my attacks during stressful situations.
1. Exercise & De-Stress
Exercise is an integral part of who I am and the most important player in my game of destress. We’ve all heard that exercise releases the mood-improving hormones called endorphins. Any website or doctor will tell you to hit the gym if you feel depressed, anxious or struggling to sleep. I promise you ... it really does work!
For me, the endorphin high I feel after a workout isn’t the only reason I pound the pavement or lift those weights. The sense of space and freedom I get from a long run or just an hour to myself in the gym clears my head, gives me time to think, and allows me to compartmentalize my thoughts.
I’ve finally learnt to avoid exercising so late in the day, it really does have a counterproductive effect. Although you may feel shattered after your spinning class, your mind is wide awake due to the endorphin surge. Instead, scheduling a workout between rising and midday alleviates any anxiety or stress. This, in turn, should help clear your mind allowing you to sleep a bit better. (destress)
This year I endeavor to meditate daily. Whenever I do yoga or take 10 minutes out of my day to follow one of my meditation apps, my mind really does feel refreshed, focused and clear.
You may scoff at the idea; I mean how can breathing help ease stress? You breath all day long, right?
The science explains how meditation affects the frontal cortex of the brain which in turn relieves stress. If we again put the science to one side, just taking time out to really focus on something other than your worries significantly helps put things into perspective. I often end a meditation session realizing that the root of my anxiety was irrelevant and trivial, or feeling more confident that I can tackle the problem.
3. Lists / Planning Help De-Stress
As you know from my previous post, I am the "OCD queen" of lists, making one for everything you can possibly think of. I have lists in my phone, on my laptop, and in my notebooks. They have timeframes - daily, weekly, or monthly lists. I even have a list for what I need to eat today - they’re just everywhere! I simply know no other way of operating.
Lists provide me with functionality and ensure all my thoughts / stresses are tackled in a logical and achievable manner. Craving structure, I feel very lost without them.
Start by creating a simple to-do list. I assure you that just looking at your ‘plan of attack’ will ease your anxiety (even if it’s just slightly).
4. Do Something you love
Part distraction ploy?
Yes, but doing something you enjoy makes you feel good - simple. Whether it’s swimming, playing tennis, taking a bath or cooking, it’s important to do a little of something you love several times a week. It'll keep you sane, focused and serves as an escapism from the stresses of everyday life.
I love to read a good book with a herbal tea or snuggle up on the sofa with whatever series I’m currently watching - pure escapism!
Don’t underestimate its power. de-stress
Whats your favorite way to de-stress?