15 Ways to Manage Stress: Tips & Techniques
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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. believes that 15 simple tips and techniques are key to reduce anxiety and manage stress. Many people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience a feeling of excessive worry about real-life situations, such as finances, relationships, employment, and physical health. In terms of society anxiety, the person experiences excessive worry about being judged or embarrassed. Most people feel anxiety occasionally, but those with a diagnosis have difficulty managing the level of anxiety and the frequency of these feelings. “Anxiety is a normal, predictable part of life,” said Tom Corboy, MFT, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, and co-author of the upcoming book The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.
1. Deep Breathing
Tartakovsky believes that “Deep diaphragmatic breathing triggers our relaxation response, switching from our fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system, to the relaxed, balanced response of our parasympathetic nervous system,” according to Marla Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, executive director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia and Psych Central blogger. She suggested the following exercise, which you can repeat several times: Inhale slowly to a count of four, starting at your belly and then moving into your chest. Gently hold your breath for four counts. Then slowly exhale to four counts.
2. Become Physically Active.
Participating in exercise is very helpful in combating anxiety. A cardiovascular exercise can increase the release of endorphins. This release decreases the anxiety response.
3. Get Enough Sleep.
It has been said for centuries, that sleep is very important for basic human functioning. Getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep can actually trigger anxiety. Getting a full nights rest helps prepare your body and brain. To get a good night sleep try a relaxing activity before bedtime. This includes have a cup of decaf tea, take a warm bubble bath or listen to calming music
4. Challenge the thought.
Dr. Diebler believes that “We all have moments wherein we unintentionally increase or maintain our own worry by thinking unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts are often unrealistic, inaccurate, or, to some extent, unreasonable . . .” Identify if the thought is rational or irrational. If it is irrational, then challenge and change the thought.
5. Do self affirmations.
Saying positive statements can impove your sense of self esteem. This increases the feeling of being in control versus having life or negative things happen to you.
6. Have a good social support system.
Having a good support system is important. Friends and family can help talk with you or be with you under stress or high levels of anxiety.
7. Avoid caffeine.
Caffeine triggers the flight or flight response. Avoiding caffeine can decrease feelings of anxiety.
8. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol.
“Corboy and his team have treated countless clients whose first panic attack occurred while they were taking drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy or LSD. “Panic attacks are bad enough if you are straight and sober, so imagine how bad they are if you are high, and can’t get un-high until the drug wears off.” says Tartakovsky. The end result of use of alcohol and drugs can trigger an anxiety response.
9. Do something fun.
Do the things you like with people that you enjoy. Maintaining social activity, or doing a hobby can keep your mind off of anxiety provoking thoughts.
10. Take a break.
Take frequent breaks to reboot. Breaks away from responsibilities or stressors can provide a 5 minute mini mental vacation so that you can reboot and maintain without panic.
Identify possible solutions to your anxiety through analyzing the causes of stress in your life.
12. Read a book on anxiety.
There are many valuable resources on anxiety, which teach you effective coping skills. Corboy recommended Dying of Embarrassment for people with social anxiety; The BDD Workbook for body dysmorphic disorder; The Imp of the Mind and The OCD Workbook for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Deibler suggested Stop Obsessing for adults with OCD (and Up and Down the Worry Hill for kids with OCD). For people with panic attacks, she suggested Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks. For a general overview of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety, Corboy recommended The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. He also recommended Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life and The Wisdom of No Escape. You can find more book recommendations at Dr. Corboy’s website.
13. Engage in relaxation techniques.
Meditation and yoga are great relaxation techniques.
14. Seek a professional therapist.
A professional therapist can help you by using CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). This will help to decrease anxiety feeling and increase coping skills.
15. Accept your anxiety.
Dr. Corby believes that “If you really want to effectively manage your anxiety, the key is to accept it,”. This might sound counterintuitive. But anxiety, “in and of itself,” isn’t the real problem. Instead, it’s our attempts at controlling and eliminating it, he said. “Not accepting these unwanted inner experiences is the actual source of so much of our self-induced suffering." Accepting anxiety doesn’t mean “resign[ing] ourselves to a life of anxious misery. It simply means that we are better off recognizing and fully accepting the existence of anxiety and other uncomfortable emotional states that are inevitable, but transitory,” Corboy said.
- Kim B.
At times I still have anxiety. I am certain that most, if not all of us have anxious moments or instances, that affect our lives, and I am going through one of those times in life right now. Our family vehicle is giving us maintenance issues and requires a tremendous amount of repairs. They are not just small repairs either - these are major repairs. They are not just hundreds of dollars some of them have been thousands of dollars.
You are probably thinking to yourself or maybe even saying to yourself that there is a simple solution. The solution to my dilemma is to get rid of the vehicle. Not so fast my friend! If it were as easy as dumping it off a cliff, it would be done already.
First off, this is our family vehicle, meaning that it is big enough for our family of five to travel together and do so comfortably. To separate from this vehicle means that we must replace it with a vehicle that can accommodate our family size - An even larger expense. Second, this is the vehicle that my wife primarily drives on a daily basis. She must have a vehicle to make her rounds to work, picking up kids, and doing shopping. Just for the record, I do help out with the kids and the shopping : ) Third, we are not made of money. We live on a budget, and I am uncertain that a different vehicle will fit our budget. Beyond that what if we can’t get the credit to purchase something different. We don’t have cash to make a purchase without financing. Lastly, even if I can find a way to make the financing happen, I will have to find a vehicle that is safe, suitable, and in good enough condition to want to make the leap.
Do you see my situation? Do you feel my concern? Oh my gosh, do you understand my dilemma? I have created a very anxiety filled situation in my life!
I see that there are problems with our current vehicle, because there are real economic implications for our family, which go beyond the scheduled payments or routine maintenance. I have created this web of anxiety for myself. However, now I am acknowledging my anxiety related to this situation, which I have never done that before, and it almost feels good!. Maybe now I can do the work necessary to replace my family vehicle. I have been too anxious to even try and solve the problem, until writing this comment. What's the moral of the story? Awareness can help to reduce anxiety.
Follow these steps: Awareness, Inspiration, and Action.
15 Small Steps You Can Take Today to Improve Anxiety Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-small-steps-you-can-take-today-to-improve-anxiety-symptoms/00016637