How to Deal With Anxiety and Stress


Everyone suffers some form of stress or anxiety during their lifetime. The only difference is the frequency and severity of their episodes. If you find that these anxiety episodes are seriously affecting your life to the point of debilitation, seek professional help. If, however, you suffer from more mild to moderate stress and anxiety, you can practice how to cope with a single incident at a time. Adjusting your mindset for a more positive outlook on life will also help combat stress and anxiety, as will maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Coping with Individual Incidents
Recognize the warning signs. Sometimes stress and anxiety arrive with bells and whistles, but sometimes they creep up undetected. Spot the symptoms as they manifest. Look out for the following warning signs in your behavior, which often come with stress and anxiety.
A sharp increase or decrease in appetite.
A growing reliance on alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or other drugs.
Insomnia or trouble remaining asleep.
Mood swings marked by shorter tempers.
Feeling easily distracted and putting off major decisions.
Feeling engulfed by things that seem to be beyond your control.

Allow yourself to feel anxious at first.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but try to avoid bracing yourself against stress when you feel it building up inside. Remember that anxiety is an emotion and thus temporary. Avoid compounding it further by stressing over feeling stressed. Accept it for what it is and let it wash over you. As it does, keep yourself calm at the same time by:
Breathing deeply and slowly with full inhales and exhales.
Counting your breaths to focus your attention on the here and now.
Reassessing yourself after ten breaths and repeating if needed

Adopt a neutral attitude.
After allowing yourself to ride out the first wave of anxiety, imagine yourself as a scientist or doctor. Take a step back from the situation so that it feels less personal or immediate. Reproach the situation as if it was a slide under a microscope. Adopt the clinical detachment of a scientist sorting through data out of professional curiosity, rather than personal concern.
Be careful to label this outbreak of anxiety and its sources as a “situation,” rather than immediately framing it as a “problem.” Avoid jumping to conclusions and adopting a negative outlook right from the start

Analyze the situation
Identify what triggered your anxiety. Determine whether the source is something that can be resolved.
Whether the situation is a concrete, real-world set of circumstances that can be immediately addressed or merely a hypothetical possibility.
Whether your hypothetical possibility is probable or unlikely to ever actually occur.
Whether the situation can be resolved now and/or prevented from repeating.

Resolve the situation.
Write down every single thing you can possibly do to deal with the circumstances that triggered your anxiety. Address those aspects of the situation that you are able to directly influence. From your list, choose the most practical actions that you can make. Implement your new plan immediately. For instance, if a bully at school or work triggered your stress:
Forget trying to change the bully’s outlook or personality, since this is most likely beyond your control.
Concentrate instead on steps that you can actually take, such as: minimizing your interaction, confronting them, and/or being the bigger person by refusing to be drawn into petty disputes.

Determine whether the trigger is the present set of circumstances (in this case, the bully’s overall bad attitude), or whether it is because it touches on another source of anxiety (such as appearance, social standing, or past instances of bullying). If the latter, create a separate list of steps you can take to improve those circumstances as well.

Accept the unresolvable.
Learn to live with those circumstances that are impossible to change. Embrace the fact that comes a things are simply beyond your control. Allow yourself to feel the negative feelings they cause, without guilt. Once those initial feelings pass, square yourself to the realities. Accept them as factors that you will have to contend with in life.

Don’t waste time trying to come up with solutions that resolve situations 100% to your liking.
Concentrate on actionable steps you can take to improve your situation, whether it’s by 99% or just 1%.
Learn to laugh at the circumstancing yourself. Develop a sense of humor regarding your anxieties. Counteract the negative feelings they cause with positive ones.

Coping with Chronic Issues
Schedule a daily “worry session.” If you experience anxiety and stress frequently, set aside a portion of each day to face them. Make it a part of your daily routine of self-care, as you would with meals, hygiene, and exercise. As you face triggers throughout the day, allow yourself the ability to confront the resulting stress later, at a time of your choosing, rather than be overcome by it in the moment.
Devote 15 to 20 minutes each day, at the same hour, to create structure. Allow plenty of time between your worry session and your bedtime to avoid bringing your worries to bed with you.
Jot down triggers as they happen. Create a to-do list to go over later, during your session. Assure yourself in the moment that the situation will in fact be addressed.
Keep a journal. Commit your troubles to paper so you don’t have to keep them bottled up. Use this time to create lists of steps that you can take to resolve issues.
As your problem-solving skills become more ingrained with repeated practice during your sessions, apply them in the moment to resolve situations that demand immediate attention.

Make self-care a priority. It can be easy to see certain self-care practices as expendable or put them last on your list. When you’re busy, overwhelmed, or tired, it’s easy to think “I’ll just skip yoga class today,” or “I can shower tomorrow,” or, “It’s not really that important that I meditate. Getting this other stuff done is more important.” Don’t think of your stress-reducing activities as optional. Schedule time to do them daily and stick to it.
Identify things that help reduce your stress, such as yoga, meditation, exercising, deep breathing, and schedule a time to do it every day.
Managing stress is all about balance and prevention (consistent de-stressing) so it’s important that it’s scheduled and made a priority.

Concentrate on the present.
Understand that stress and anxiety often stems from overthinking the past or the future. Recognize that the past is just that: past. Expect the future to be shaped in part by your current actions. Center your attention on what you can do here, in the moment, to improve your situation.
To reorient yourself to the present, quit what you are doing. Breathe deeply and slowly. Expand your senses to note your environment. Observe what is going on around you instead of what’s going on inside your head. Close your eyes if necessary and focus solely on smells and sounds.

Quit thinking in absolutes.
Expect chronic issues to distort your outlook. Determine whether you are viewing situations objectively or if you are perceiving them through a biased point of view. Resist viewing situations as being either black or white. Perceive them as shades of gray instead. Note the positive as well as the negative to ensure a more balanced view of the world.
Treat each situation as an isolated incident, rather than one link of an unbreakable chain that is doomed to repeat itself. For example, don’t assume that all future relationships are doomed to fail just because your last partner broke up with you.
Break each situation down into separate components and analyze each in turn. For instance, if you are stressing out over your job because it won’t lead to advancement, don’t overlook its positive aspects, such as its proximity to home, your relationships with coworkers, and the skillsets that you can now include in your resume when seeking other employment.
Avoid assuming the worst. Say your boss calls you into their office when it isn’t their habit to do so. Think of ALL the possible topics they might want to discuss, rather than focusing exclusively on negative ones like, “You’re fired!”

Give yourself a break.
Avoid holding yourself accountable for other people’s choices. Where your own actions are concerned, allow yourself the freedom of choice. Don’t try to live your life by a single code of unbreakable rules, since this is often impossible and only creates more stress when you end up breaking those rules. When you do make mistakes, view each one as a single action that you once took, rather than internalizing it as a definition of who you are as a person.

When analyzing a situation, use verbs to describe what happened to better identify possible solutions or alternatives.
For example, think, “I missed my last bill payment because I worked three double-shifts in a row and forgot all about it due to exhaustion,” rather than, “I missed my last payment because I’m forgetful.”

Seek professional help.
If you find that you are unable to cope with stress and anxiety on your own, seek treatment. Speak with your doctor about a referral, ask trusted friends and families about therapists who may have treated them, or search online for a practice that seems to suit you. Expect counseling to possibly utilize one or more of the following techniques:
Discussing your feelings and personal history.
Sharpening problem-solving skills.
Supervised exposure to simulated and real-world triggers of anxiety.
Rebuilding your outlook on life to reduce negative mindsets.
Recognizing and mastering your body’s responses to stress.
Practicing relaxation techniques.

Participate in your community.
Involve yourself with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or even strangers in need. Strengthen your ties with loved ones and acquaintances to form a network that you can rely upon instead of feeling isolated and overwhelmed. At the same time, boost your sense of self-worth with the satisfaction that comes from being a reliable source of support for others. Simple steps that you can take based on your availability include
Making a point of using polite phrases such as “please” and “thank you.”
Asking people, “How are you?” as an actual question instead of a greeting.
Simple acts like holding doors and helping to carry heavy loads.
Regularly calling and planning visits or activities with friends and loved ones.
Offering your assistance with other people’s projects.
Volunteering your services for organizations like churches, hospitals, nursing homes, non-profits, and schools.

Set aside time each day for some form of physical activity. Bolster your self-esteem by improving your physical health. Set simple, achievable goals for yourself (such as being able to run nonstop for 20 minutes in six weeks from now) to prove that you can overcome challenges: a skillset that you can then transfer to dealing with stress and anxiety. As an added benefit, some studies suggest that exercising can actually boost the bodily chemicals that make us feel more positive.

Try one or more of the following:
A daily routine of light exercises around the house, such as jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and pull-ups.
Getting out of the house to run, hike, bike, or swim and enjoy some alone-time.
Joining a gym, team sport, or running/biking/swimming club to connect with other people.

Maintain a healthy diet.
Stick to a regular meal-schedule as best you can so that your stress or anxiety isn’t made worse by hunger or low energy. Abstain from unrefined sugars and high glycemic carbs, which can affect your body chemistry by causing spikes and crashes in energy. Drink plenty of water, since dehydration can make the situation worse.
Foods proven to combat stress and anxiety include: acai berries, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, chia seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, oranges, salmon, seaweed, spinach, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and yogurt.
Low to moderate caffeine habits may prove beneficial to those with mild to moderate stress and anxiety. However, those with higher levels should avoid it, since it may trigger or worsen attacks.
Your first inclination may be to overeat, but it’s best to avoid binge eating when stressed and anxious.
Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.

Get plenty of sleep.
Maintain good sleep habits. Aim for seven to nine hours of straight sleep each day with a fixed bedtime. Avoid taking naps, which may make your seven-to-nine hours harder to achieve. Also avoid using your bed and bedroom for any activities other than sleeping. Condition your body to expect sleep when you get into bed. Things to avoid include:

Taking stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine in the evening.
Watching TV or staring at a computer screen immediately before bedtime.
Exercising, working, or doing chores right before bed.
Keeping the lights and/or radio on.




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