Managing anxiety, stress, worry and fear

Date: 04/28/2022

What a title, huh?  It seems these days, everywhere you turn there is a new crisis – as soon as one subsides, another is right around the corner.  The latest American Psychiatric Association ”Stress in America” poll found alarming rates of stress associated with the rising cost of everyday necessities and the global turmoil in Ukraine.  Given what we know about the effect of stress on our mental well-being and our physical bodies, we must prioritize stress management!  For me, I am very susceptible to taking it all on and going, going until my body and brain remind me to slow it down.  I have learned over the years that I have to remain diligent and prioritize the management of anxiety, stress, worry and fear.  It is as important as the food we eat and air we breathe. 

The basics

Starting with a good foundation is the key to most things and stress management is no different.  You want to be able to eliminate variables that can instigate or exacerbate daily stress.  Below are the basics – a little tough love here… you must be willing to make small changes to your daily basic habits that may seem challenging at first but, in the end, will serve you!  You can do it. I am with you.

  • Sleep  – Sleep is essential to a healthy body and brain, duh.  This includes the quality of sleep and not just the number of hours in bed.  I could (and might still) write an entire article just on sleep but for today, you are just going to get the cliff notes.  Create a bedtime routine so your body knows when to prepare for sleep.  That routine could include a bath, a meditation, tea, a stretch or really anything that is the same each night where your body starts to have “muscle memory” of what to do and how to prepare.  Turn off your damn phones!  Not only is the phone emitting light that will disrupt natural sleep preparation but also the images and stories are producing cortisol and adrenaline which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.  This could also be a hard one for some folks – if you aren’t getting great sleep because your partner snores or moves or tries to snuggle you (or more?), move rooms.  Sleep apart for a bit to get yourself rested and determine your sleep baseline.  It isn’t forever, just until you establish your own routine.
  • Diet – Another duh one here.  Nourish your body (and soul) with fresh, unprocessed, colorful foods.  Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.  Avoid sugars, stimulants (coffee) and eating late at night. It just that easy – kidding, I know food is complicated but focus on how food makes you feel and the nourishment it provides your body and soul.

Next level

Once you have a good solid handle on the basics of sleep and diet, there are many other ways to go a bit deeper and try some new ideas or connect to activities that may have fallen off your radar because of all the daily to-do’s.  As we take on more and experience stress, anxiety and fear the vicious cycle begins.  Now is the time to dedicate the time and energy into peaceful and healthy ways to reduce these toxic inputs.  

  • Meditation – I am a meditation super-fan.  I meditate every day and make sure to carve out time for this important time.  There are many ways to meditate and endless resources online to get started and explore the different types that interest you.  There is an ap I like called NuCalm and I know my sister-in-law loves the Peloton mediation options.  Meditation can also include breathing techniques designed to calm the nervous system and slow things down.  It is amazing to me the power of “breath” and how it is essential and yet underutilized as a tool.  I am certain you can find a practice to incorporate into your daily life.  Whether it is five minutes or thirty minutes – just do it.   It will also become more familiar, and you will start to crave that time each day.  
  • Supplements – there are plenty of natural supplement choices to help calm the body.  Just to name a few – Valerian, Gaba and CBD.  I recommend doing your research, asking your medical professional or trusted community to guide you and start out slow.  
  • Nature – getting back to nature, in the words of Martha Stewart, is a good thing!  It is free, easy, and accessible to anyone.  Garden, walk, hike, bike, stroll, roll or just sit and enjoy the beauty of nature.  Ground yourself in the earth and let the sunshine soak into you.  
  • Music and Books – another wonderful way to lose yourself and relax the mind. Find quiet, soft tunes and books, like poetry or short stories where you can pick them up in small doses. 
  • Journaling – this is huge for me.  Putting pen to paper and letting the words flow with no agenda, beginning or end is liberating and allows my thoughts to gently leave my mind and allows space for new ideas and thoughts. Try it and let me know what you think!

As always, please share your go-to stress relieving tips and tricks. I love hearing from this amazing community what creative and inspiring steps you all are taking to prioritize health, happiness and love.

Thanks for reading,