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Best Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Updated on November 18, 2011

Stress management starts with being aware of how your body and mind reacts to stress. Find the best ways to relieve your stress and anxiety by trying out these different strategies and see what works best for you.

Get rid of the clutter in your mind and environment

Stephanie, a 34 year old friend, sat on her office desk and noticed her shallow breathing. She could sense she was beginning to feel irritated from the noise made by her colleagues. They were rambling and cheering on about last night’s game. “Shut up!” She wanted to scream. Her desk was filled with paperwork and in total disarray. A vivid picture of her hand mightily sweeping the mess from her table made her stop long enough to take a deep breath. She was stressing herself out again but knew exactly what to do.

She closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths trying to block the noise. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. She drew her attention to her breath entering and going out of her nostrils. But her thoughts intruded her mind. “I hate my boss! How could he do this to me?” She had work so hard on the project and he had dismissed it without even reading it. And Jeff, he had looked at her smugly. She wanted to hit his head with a hammer! She almost groaned aloud as she recognized where her thoughts were leading. She was insanely jealous that Jeff’s work was better than hers. Oh gosh! She suddenly remembered she had forgotten to make an appointment with the dentist. Her daughter needed that appointment!

She could feel she was beginning to feel tense and anxious.  She continued to breathe while telling herself, “It’s okay.  You did the best that you could with the project.  You can still make the appointment this morning.  There is more than enough time.”  She felt herself relax at those words and begin to grow calmer with each breath.  When she felt her body was not tense anymore and her breathing was even, she finally opened her eyes.  Miraculously, the people around her had settled on their desks.  She smiled.

She then sorted the things on her table.  She threw unnecessary papers and things that were no longer of use.  She called the dentist.  She recognized that she had the choice to quit her job if she hated the environment she was in.  Stephanie felt so much better after getting rid of the clutter in her mind and her work table.

Deep breathing and meditation may bring out the unwanted thoughts.  Just listen to those thoughts as it may also reveal where you are.  After, gently redirect your thoughts to positive ones.  Dealing with the thoughts running in your head is a good way to relieve stress and anxiety. 

Clutter creates a sense of chaos and confusion.  By cleaning up your workspace, your cabinet, your home, you are also helping out clear the clutter from your mind. 

Before you proceed, stop and relax by playing this calming music

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down." ~Lily Tomlin

Create a private space for nourishment

Each one of us needs to create a private space so we could nourish ourselves. We need a “Me Time!” A time to be quiet. A time to pamper oneself. A time to reflect. A time to meditate. A time to rejuvenate and be refreshed.

“I make sure I get a massage every weekend.” Michael, a busy businessman and a father of two boys shares his secret. “I make sure the boys are out somewhere so I could relax and get a much needed rest.”

Sheila, a marketing manager, reveals her ‘me time’, “I go to my favorite spa with my best friend or unwind with a hot bath at the end of a long day complete with lavender oil or scented candles and soft music!”

For Samantha, her private space for nourishment is creating a ceremony in doing ordinary things. Things like drinking tea, taking a shower or cleaning her face. “When I drink tea, I bring out the teapot and tea cups and sit down in the garden and sip the tea slowly. Whatever I do, I do it consciously and with pleasure. I refuse to rush through the routine. It calms me somehow and releases tension. That’s how I show love to myself too!”

Do something that you love and do it again and again

One way to release stress and anxiety is to find an activity that you love and doing it again and again.

Best friends Tom and Jake love watching funny movies along with popcorn and a can of beer. “A funny movie relaxes me.” Tom discloses. “We’re watching Mr. Bean tonight!”

Mariah finds relaxation in playing with her pet cats.  Stella finds solace in painting and gardening.  And Jules simply loves listening to music.

There is something cathartic in doing something that you love. It’s beneficial in relieving stress and anxiety as you are able to turn your attention to something positive rather than focusing your energies on your worries.

Cultivate meaningful relationships

Having wonderful and affirming relationships are healing. Family or friends that can support you in times of crisis help you in dealing with stress and anxiety.

“My aunt Vickie was absolutely an angel.” Karen mused. “She had always been a very good listener and does so without judgment. This allowed me to share what I truly felt without fear. I got pregnant when I was 18 and I didn’t know how to handle it. It was a very stressful time! But I got through it because she made me face my fears instead of running away.”

As for me, I am single and yet I have a good set of friends whom I can talk to, laugh and share life with. If I didn’t have truly wonderful friends, I know I would be pretty lonely and depressed. Being able to share the ups and downs with good friends helps relieve my stress and anxiety immensely.

"Give your stress wings and let it fly away." ~Terri Guillemets

I have been listening to this music while writing this hub, it has calmed me indeed!

Master the art of relaxing by letting go

Stress and anxiety are caused by many things. Some of them are unmet expectations, having high standards or being a perfectionist, obsessive compulsive behavior, worrying about the future all the time or what other people will say, fear of failure and of making mistakes, anger and resentment and so on.

To relieve stress and anxiety, let go!

Stop being such a perfectionist.

Start living in the present moment. If you are living in the now and doing so marvelously, you can be sure that your future will be beautiful.

Tell yourself it's okay to make mistakes.

Forgive the people who have hurt you.

Be grateful for who and what you have in your life.

I could still hear in my mind Carrie’s complaints whenever we are together. Everything in her life seems to be all wrong. Her kids. Her parents. Her staff. Her hair. Her nails. One day I just looked at her and told her point blank. “You know what, it’s time to let go! All I hear from you is one complaint after the other! Let go of all this insanely negative thoughts which is stressing you and causing you anxiety most of the time! Let go and allow yourself to be happy. You deserve to be happy! Let go Carrie!”

Carrie stopped in her tirade and tears fell from her eyes. I don’t really know what happened inside her but something came right that day. She realized living a stressful life was harming her more than anyone else. After several minutes of sobbing, she hiccuped and declared, “Yes, it is time to let go! I will let go! I am letting go!” Carrie's decision to let go has helped her deal with her constant worrying and anxiety that caused her a lot of stress. She deals with stress a lot better now and a nicer person to be around too!

Other Ways

There are many other ways to deal with stress and anxiety. Exercise, eating certain foods, yoga and meditation, laughter, tapping your way to health and more! But that will be in another article. Learning to manage your stress and anxiety can improve your health, your attitude, your relationships dramatically. Choose wellness today.

By: Michelle Simtoco


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