Tips for Managing Anxiety and Stress
I'm the type of person who gets stressed about stress before there's even stress to stress about!
Sometimes stress can be a good thing, a great motivator to get tasks done, but other times it can become way too overwhelming.
Recently, I have noticed that in certain situations my stress can go up a level - I become anxious and sometimes almost have a panic attack.
The (almost) panic attacks I've experienced are scary, my body starts to shut down, I can't think clearly or even see that there's potential resolutions to the situation I'm in. I think of the worst possible outcomes and start to believe that "This is it. There's no way I'll get through this." My breathing becomes difficult, my eyes well up and all I want to do is sit on the floor and ugly cry.
I know that everyone is unique and will have different experiences of anxiety and stress. There are even different types of anxiety and they will need different types of treatments. For mild anxiety self-help techniques can be very helpful (and I have found a great list of these techniques). However, for more severe anxiety, it would be best to seek professional advice. The Lowdown sums up the different types of anxiety disorders quite well: Generalised Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic Disorder (check out their website for the definitions/meanings).
Self-Help Techniques (as suggested by Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
Next time you're feeling anxious or stressed try these coping strategies:
Take a time-out. Listen to music, get a massage, or learn meditation/relaxation techniques (there are some great apps out there such as HEADSPACE & Smiling Mind). Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
Limit your caffeine intake, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Even just a short walk outside could help clear your mind.
Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary. (I personally like to count to 5 slowly as I inhale and then count to 5 again as I exhale)
Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
Welcome humour. A good laugh goes a long way. Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you're feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you're feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a doctor or therapist for professional help.
And let's not forget about the promises we have in God's Word. Here are some Bible verses to read and reflect on for anyone feeling anxious:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light".
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
We do not have to live our lives anxiously toiling and striving to control the circumstances around us. Trust Christ, and know that every aspect of our lives is purposefully designed to make us more like him and bring glory to his name. After all, 'He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?'.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.