“How are you?”
This is a question we hear all the time. Most of us simply say, “Fine, how are you?” Sometimes we mean it. And other times we’re not feeling so great, but it feels like a hassle to get into it.
For many of us, lately we HAVEN’T been feeling all that great. It’s an anxious time right now. There’s a lot going on in the world! If you’ve been on edge recently, you’re certainly not alone.
Even if you don’t feel like talking about it, there are still things you can do to feel better, on your own. And better yet, they’re pretty simple things to do.
How to reduce stress
By trying any of the following ways for how to reduce stress, you just may find the sun peeping in more and more every day:
- Move more, even if it’s just a little. You’d be surprised how much of a pick-me-up it can be to just move your body. You don’t need to run a marathon tomorrow—just start small. Try taking a short walk, standing up more frequently or lifting light weights… anything you can do to get started! Movement helps ease levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your body, and it’s one of the proven ways to reduce stress. It’s science!
- Smell nice smells. Candles or essential oils with calming scents can help sooth your senses. Lavender, bergamot, neroli, sandalwood and orange are all known to be relaxing. Baking a batch of cookies or cooking a favorite meal can also help warm your home with comforting smells.
- Drink more water and less caffeine. Good hydration helps your body regulate blood pressure and just about every process. You can achieve this by simply drinking more water. Coffee can also be an issue when you’re stressed out. Even though it might feel comforting to reach for that pumpkin spice latte, the physical effects of caffeine (and sugar) can make your anxiety worse. So if your morning cup is making you feeling nervous and jittery, you may want to cut back.
- Write down the good stuff. The sun is shining, your breakfast smells delicious, a family member called you… life is full of many good things! When you’re anxious and upset, it can be easy to overlook the small stuff, and that’s why journaling can help. Each day, write down 3-5 things you’re thankful for, no matter how small. This is especially useful if you do it when you’re feeling anxious. The glass is really half full!
- Laugh. Laughter is a natural stress reliever, and can add to your overall happiness. But when you’re feeling anxious, you might be distracted and out of touch with the lighter side of things. Take a few minutes to watch an episode of a funny show or a clip from a comedian. Or spend time with a pet—they’re bound to do something that makes you smile.
- Tune into right now. You’ve probably heard the word “mindfulness” bouncing around lately, but what is it? Quite simply, mindfulness is being in tune with what’s going on around you. It helps you live in the present moment and enjoy what’s happening, instead of constantly being 15 steps ahead. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and increase happiness, and the more you do it, the easier it gets! You can start today by taking a few minutes to breathe deeply or by trying a meditation app.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone
It might put you slightly outside your comfort zone, but reaching out to friends and family can help to lift your mood. Getting together in person is tough right now, but you can text, call or use video chat.
What happens if you’re trying some of these things, but your anxiety isn’t getting much better? That’s OK. There’s a service offered free of charge to help you talk through what you’re feeling. To learn more, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline.
Take easy steps every day
All good things come with time. By taking small actions every day, you can make serious strides in handling your stress and anxiety. It all starts with a single step.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.