stress and anxiety

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Wow! What an experience the most recent quarter of 2020 has been. This week marks three whole months that my colleagues and I have been working from home. Throughout the past few months, there are likely uncertainties weighing on all of us. For those of you finishing school and entering the job market, it has been an especially challenging time. Not to mention those of you who had maybe just gotten settled into your career, only to be uprooted with change.

Times like these can create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. How we choose to handle and manage these feelings could be the difference between living a life of happiness and peace vs. sadness and negativity. I wanted to share some tips on how to manage stress and anxiety at home.

  1. Journal – There are many ways that journaling can relieve some of the pressure created by stress and anxiety. Here are just a few ideas to leverage the benefits of journaling:
    • Keep a gratitude journal – every morning or evening, sit down to reflect on all the things you are grateful for and why. Perhaps set a goal for yourself of three or five things. Some days this may come easier than others. But soon it will be evident that there are many constants in our lives to lean on during uncertain times. To challenge yourself to take it a step further – take action on those things that you are grateful for to show your gratitude. Have you told that person? Have you dedicated time to that activity, event, or project?
    • Keep a happiness journal – similar to the gratitude journal, jot down a handful of things that brought you happiness that day. There could be overlap with items you’re grateful for, but this journal idea puts more of a focus on those little things that bring you joy and make you smile throughout the day.
    • Use it as an outlet – a journal is a place to express your true feelings, fears, and frustrations. Having the ability to write them down will allow you to get them off your chest, feel them leave your body through your writing, and move forward.
  2. Meditate – We live in a world full of stimulation. Especially now, when we may all feel more connected to our digital devices than ever before, it is important to unplug and just BE. Like journaling, meditation can look different for different people, depending on your preferences:
    • Yoga – bringing together physical activity, a focus on breathing, and a calm quiet environment, yoga can provide an opportunity for the restoration of your mind and body. For me, my go-to practice is Yin – a passive style of yoga that specifically focuses on breathing, meditation, and release.
    • Focus on a verse or quote – meditating on a bible verse or quote can bring peace to those struggling with stress or anxiety. To do this, sit quietly and free from distractions and simply repeat your chosen mantra over and over to yourself. For example, Dale Carnegie encourages us to “Live in day-tight compartments. Don’t stew about the future, just live each day until bedtime.”
    • Practice intentional breathing exercises – the ‘Four Cubed’ is always an easy one for me to remember. Breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breath out for four seconds, and hold for a final four sections. Repeat. Remember to focus on deep belly breaths vs. shallow chest breaths.
  3. Exercise – We all know this already, right? Whether it is running, getting to the gym, or going on a nice long walk it is important to get out and move! Physical activity will allow for release of anxious energy and give you something new to focus on.
  4. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water – Focusing on nutritious meals and staying hydrated will help with energy levels.
  5. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule – The recent quarantine environment has undoubtedly switched up our schedules. Although work and leisure activities may look different or be non-existent, it is important to commit to your sleep schedule. Try to get at least eight hours in with consistent wake-up and bedtimes. This will help your mind and body properly rest, recover, and prepare for each day.
  6. Find something you love – Got free time on your hands? Rather than spending time worrying about the things we can’t control, seek out a hobby or activity that you enjoy. Something that you can lose yourself in. You know; those things where you look at the clock one minute and then the next and all of a sudden a few hours have passed. It may be reading, writing, cooking, crafting, or so many other things in between. My husband has recently taken on some wood working projects – something I never would have dreamed him doing prior to quarantine!

Some of these ideas may work for some, but not for others. That’s totally okay! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to stress and anxiety. Find a few that will work for you to help you through uncertain times. While these are just a few ideas to combat stress and anxiety, there are several other ways not mentioned. If you have your own ideas, or proven techniques, please comment and share them so we can help each other. Hang in there; we’re all in this together!

Joleen Hueftle is a Senior Student Outreach Coordinator for the Student Outreach division at Aureus Medical Group.

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