Stress creeps into our lives but it doesn’t go away. When the external forces are too strong and we don’t have a healthy outlet for that energy, we get stressed and anxious. Stress is terrible for the body and it’s not fun. Luckily, there are habits and lifestyle changes that can improve your well-being. Find the habits that work for you.
Meditation for Stress
The daily practice of meditation reduces stress levels, improves memory, and increases happiness. I do not meditate every day, but I have found the practice useful for reducing stress and anxiety. I find a greater self-awareness and understanding of my current issues and focus. During the practice, you’ll notice certain thoughts creep in. Pay attention to what those thoughts are. Are you over obsessing about work, or a personal relationship? This may help you identify something that needs to change in your life. There are many grounding benefits that can come out of meditation, but even understanding your thoughts and current focus can be helpful. I’ve enjoyed using the Calm and Headspace apps the most, both which offer a free version.
Hypnosis for Anxiety and Confidence
Hypnosis is an interesting topic with varying opinions among experts. This option may seem weird at first, but I invite you to at least give it a try. I’ve experimented with hypnosis to battle anxiety and stress. I have yet to go to a trained professional, but I have gotten my feet wet with the Self-Esteem, Anxiety Relief, and Attract Wealth surf city apps, all which offer free options. I notice an immediate change after completing the guided hypnosis sessions. I find it most useful while sleeping or first thing in the morning before a big day.
Supplements for Balance
I’m not a big fan of supplements or medications that lead to a long-term negative impact on the body. However, there are some great plant-based options that you might find helpful. Lately, I’ve been a huge fan of Ashwagandha for reducing stress, also known as Indian Ginseng. Ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years in Indian medicine for its ability to bring the body back to a state of balance. It has been proven reduce to cortisol and other stress biomarkers, improve focus and memory, lower blood pressure, and many other benefits. I found lower levels of stress within a few weeks of taking an Ashwagandha supplement, paired with sharper focus and a higher output at work. There are many other options to try if Ashwagandha isn’t the right fit for you.
Exercise for Anxiety and Stress
This has got to be the number one stress reducer that we all know but ignore. Start moving that body! Elevating the heart rate and getting your blood flowing have so many benefits to the body and mind. Studies have shown consistent exercise can greatly reduce stress, anxiety and improve mood. I have a tough time staying active multiple days per week, but I at least manage to get in 1-hour workouts 2 times per week. I make sure 15-20 minutes of that is cardio.
Sleep for Recovery
Sleep is critical for your body and mind to perform at peak levels. Giving your brain enough time while sleeping allows it to take out the trash from the previous day. The time is used by the brain to make connections from experiences throughout the day. Even though we know how important sleep is, we stretch the evenings longer and force ourselves out of bed in the morning. The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. The best thing to do is listen to your body and keep a record of the sleep you’re getting and how you feel throughout the day. I’ve found my sweet spot is between 7-8 hours. I can operate on less than that, but I feel the effects after a few days with less sleep. Give your body what it needs, sleep is a way of life.
Limit Sugar, Limit Heighten Stress
Reduce your sugar intake. Too much sugar leads to weight gain, insulin intolerance, fatigue, and many other ugly things. But it also fuels the fire to stress levels and anxiety. Studies have shown that sugar in the diet can heighten stress levels and nervousness. I overcompensate for the crash after a sugar high. Have you ever went for more coffee after a morning donut to stay energized and focused? Oh, yeah, me neither.
Limit Alcohol to Keep Your Body Balanced
Alcohol can increase anxiety and levels of stress, especially once it’s out of your system. Drinking strips precious vitamins and minerals in your body, many of which keep your brain in balance. Look, I love beer. But I’m also honest with myself about the negative impact it has on my body. Pay attention to your mood and well-being after a night with a few drinks compared to a day without drinking. I feel a bit slower and slightly more on edge the next day, even after a few drinks.
Practice Gratitude for Peace
Practicing gratitude is a great way to elevate your mood and reduce stress. When you are focused on all the things in your life you are thankful for, the topics causing you stress fade into the background. This is one of my favorite practices that can change your life. There are many ways to practice gratitude, so find what works best for you. One of my favorite practices is to list five things I’m grateful every night in bed, before I fall asleep. They are generally little things that happened in the day, but they can be big things too. For example, yesterday I was thankful for helpful feedback from a colleague on a new product page I was building out. I was also thankful for a clean bill of health at my daughter’s 15-month doctor visit. Great things happen to us all the time. We focus on the negative, so it’s important to focus on the good in your life. This practice may seem hard at first, but it gets easier the more you do it.
On your next car ride, give this 11-minute podcast episode by Jim Kwik a listen. It explains how the process of gratitude rewires the brain and promotes happiness.
Learn for Growth
The mind is curious, it thrives on learning and new experiences. As the William S. Burroughs quote goes, “If you are not growing, you’re dying.” Keep your mind stimulated by reading, visiting new places, and trying new activities. It may not seem like this would help with anxiety, but it does. Keeping your mind occupied and fed with experiences that aren’t contributing to your stress will keep you in balance.
Journaling for Self-Awareness
The practice of daily journaling is a great way to get all your thoughts out of paper. This can be a great tool for getting a better understanding of what is going on in your head and where your big points of focus are. Similar to meditation, this habit has given me a much greater sense of awareness. I get a feel for what is really going on in my head, and I’m usually able to pinpoint one of two areas in my life that are giving me stress. Once I can identify the problem, then I work on solutions to fix. I have also found journaling helpful for record keeping. I have a record of when I start/stop new habits to get a greater sense of what is working best for me.