1. Get a good night’s rest
Try to get a good night’s sleep. For most adults that means 7-8 hours every night. When we do not get enough sleep, our bodies release cortisol, a stress hormone. Prolonged stress results in high level of cortisol that has been linked with physical and mental illness. If you feel tired, add a half hour more of sleep every night, it could get you on the way to the amount of sleep you need.
2. Develop a routine to unwind before bed
Do you ever lie down to go to sleep, feel exhausted and yet find yourself tossing and turning? Our bodies need time to get ready for bed. Try to put away all electronics at least an hour before bed. Instead, create a ritual that involves one or more relaxing activities (reading, meditating, light stretching, etc.).
3. Learn relaxation strategies and regularly practice them
Our lives have become very busy and filled with activity and information overload. Stress is something that is commonplace and left unchecked will interfere with your sleep, mood and anxiety levels. While stress affects the body, the good news is that you can reduce the physical tension associated with stress by practicing physical relaxation techniques.
4. Breathe well
Most of us breathe from our chest when stressed or anxious, which leaves our upper bodies tense. Try practicing diaphragmatic breathing. You can do this by lying down with an open book across you stomach over your belly button area. Breathe in and out. If you are you using diaphragmatic breathing, your stomach will inflate and lift the book when you inhale and deflate and lower the book when you exhale. If you notice that the opposite happens, keep practicing by trying to breathe from the center of your belly. You can notice positive effects by doing this for 5 minutes before bed.
5. Learn to meditate and practice regularly
Meditation has many positive effects on both the mind and the body. Look up a local Buddhist Center to see if they offer classes or check out a book at your local library. Your local yoga studio also offers meditation instruction.
6. Reduce the amount of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine you consume
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine all raise the cortisol (stress hormone) in your bloodstream. Reducing your intake or perhaps eliminating their consumption will help you feel better
7. Maintain a balanced diet that is low in processed foods & refined sugars and eat plenty of fresh fruits & vegetables
Make sure that you have regular meals throughout the day, because hypoglycemia will produce anxiety symptoms in some people.
8. Develop an exercise regimen 3-5 times a week and stick to it
Exercise reduces the physical effects of stress, improves mood and feelings of wellbeing. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, please check with your doctor when beginning a new exercise program.
9.Make room for friends and fun in your life
Our close relationships are very valuable, when we confide in a trusted friend or family member that supports us we feel validated and understood. Having fun, through pursuing activities and hobbies that interest you is part of a balanced life and reduces stress.
10. Ask for help when you need it
Seeking help from a therapist or counselor that specializes in anxiety can help you get the tools you need to reduce stress, worry and anxiety in your life. Best of all therapy is completely natural!
If you need help to reduce stress or any other type of anxiety, call Dr. Helen Odessky today (847) 529-8600 for a free 10-minute phone consultation.
Great article Helen! I find that establishing a regular sleep routine is very helpful for reducing my anxiety. In particular, making sure I turn off all electronic devices at least 60 minutes before going to sleep.