5 Ways to Handle Anxiety and Reduce Stress

5 Ways to Handle Anxiety and Reduce Stress

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. It can be caused by many different things, including stress, genetics, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Anxiety can lead to a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including chest pain, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, and nausea. Everyone worries about things now and again, but to suffer from anxiety means that worrying has a debilitating impact on your daily life. If you are struggling with anxiety, there are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. In this blog post, we will discuss five ways to handle anxiety and reduce stress. 

Practice Breathing and Mindfulness Techniques 

Improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, which can contribute to both anxiety and panic attacks. The next time you begin to feel anxious, there are a variety of breathing techniques to help calm you down. A few of these techniques are: 

Alternate Nostril Breathing 

This type of breathing exercise requires you to close your eyes or soften your gaze and then start to inhale and exhale. Close off your right nostril with your thumb, breathe in, close your left nostril, and then exhale. It is best to repeat this practice for ten full breaths before releasing your nostrils and breathing regularly.  

Belly Breathing 

This breathing practice has been shown to reduce stress when practiced for twenty minutes daily. Belly breathing requires you to place one hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach. Then breathe in slowly through your nose to feel your stomach expand, and exhale through your mouth. Your chest should stay still the entire time.  

Box Breathing 

Box breathing is simple and only requires you to breathe in for four seconds, hold the air in your lungs for four seconds, exhale slowly for four seconds, and then wait to inhale again for another four seconds. This type of breathing can calm you down and return your breathing to a normal pace. 

Exercise More Frequently 

Working out may feel like the last thing you want to do when struggling with your mental health, but exercise will release endorphins and reduce stress, anxiety, and tension. The word “exercise” may have you thinking about weight rooms or running on a treadmill, but physical activity can be a variety of ways that get your body moving. Some of these activities could be yoga, gardening, participating in sports, washing your car, or even a walk around the block.  

Moving your body for 30 minutes 3-5 days a week can greatly reduce your anxiety and depression levels. However, moving for 10-15 minutes a day can also improve your mental wellness and help you start to feel better.  

Eat Healthy, More Balanced Meals 

The food we eat has a significant impact on our daily lives. Food fuels our bodies and our minds, and foods rich in certain nutrients can improve the way our mind functions. For example, foods rich in magnesium tend to help lower stress levels. These foods include leafy greens (such as spinach and Swiss chard), nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and legumes. Foods rich in zinc have also been tied to lower anxiety levels. These foods include oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks. Eating a balanced diet can help improve mental health and increase energy levels. 

Write in a Diary 

Journaling is a great way to release the built-up pressure from your day. Writing can help you discuss worries and fears, as well as check whether those fears are rational or not. When left unchecked, anxiety can cause overthinking and rumination. Sometimes getting thoughts down on paper just makes everything seem less overwhelming. You can get the most out of your journaling experience by writing exactly how you feel and what you are worried about, and then rereading what you have written. For each concern you have, try to write two ways to think about the situation differently. You can also experiment with freewriting, which means writing for a set period of time without filtering your thoughts or stopping.  

Lean on Your Support System 

Sometimes we just need to be around the people who love and support us. Having a support system can have a positive effect on your overall health. A support system can include family, friends, teachers, faith leaders, neighbors, peers, or therapists and counselors. Having a few people you trust and can turn to can help you manage everyday challenges, make difficult decisions, or even help center you during a crisis situation.  

Anxiety can feel like a very debilitating condition, but there are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. When lifestyle changes do not help, then there is no shame in seeking treatment for mental health problems; in fact, it shows that you are strong enough to admit that you need help. You are not alone in this fight; millions of people struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. With the right tools and support, you can overcome your anxiety and regain control of your life. 

Protecting Against COVID-19 and its Variants

Protecting Against COVID-19 and its Variants

In these uncertain times, it has never been more important to stay informed and aware. The rise of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has resurfaced concerns in some over how to stay safe during the continuing pandemic, and we want to help alleviate your fears as much as possible and help you practice healthier hygiene habits. We have compiled a list of ways to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during these unprecedented times. 

Cover Your Face  

We have seen the practice of wearing a mask transform from being simply to protect your health and that of others, into something more political. However, simply covering your nose and mouth when around others greatly reduces the chances of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Some places require face masks; where it is not required, it is still best to wear one. Masks work best when everyone is wearing one.  

When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you, or they may breathe these droplets in. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. 

Wash Your Hands 

Keeping up good hygiene is an important way to keep yourself healthy. The rise of COVID-19 made us all become more aware of the way we wash our hands- and this is a good thing. Washing your hands well and often is a great way to protect yourself against the virus, and other illnesses. The CDC provides a five-step reminder for handwashing:  

1) Wet your hands with cold or warm water. 

2) Lather your hands with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, under your fingernails, and between your fingers. 

3) Scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the tune of “Happy Birthday” twice through. It is also okay to not scrub aggressively. Scrubbing too hard can irritate your skin.  

4) Rinse your hands under clean, running water. 

5) Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer 

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  

Follow Proper Sneeze and Cough Etiquette 

To help slow or stop the spread of germs, it is important to cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After tissues have been used, immediately throw them away and then wash your hands. If no tissue is available, then cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm to stop the germs from spreading.  

Stay Home if You Feel Sick 

Staying home from work, school, or other social situations when you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is a simple way to protect the people in your life. Symptoms to look out for include a cough, a fever, or any shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any symptoms of being ill, whether it is from COVID-19, the flu, or a cold, then staying home will help to stop the spread and keep your loved ones safe.  

Be Aware of Your Community & Covid-19 

Staying informed about outbreaks in your local community can help you be more aware of when to practice stricter safety protocols. When COVID-19 cases are higher, it is a good idea to practice social distancing and shrink your “COVID bubble” to a smaller group of people. While this can be hard to put into practice in a consistent way, it is smart to limit the number of people with whom you interact. Wearing a mask in public during outbreaks can also protect those around you. 

Get Vaccinated or Boosted 

While the vaccine has been surrounded by myths because of its politicization, it has been shown to protect against catching COVID-19 or preventing its symptoms. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johson & Johnson vaccines do not alter your DNA, nor do they contain ingredients like preservatives, tissues, antibiotics, food proteins, medicines, latex, or metals.  

If you received your vaccine over 2 months ago (for Johnson & Johnson) or over six months ago (for Pfizer or Moderna) then you are eligible for the vaccine booster. Boosters are a half-dose of the vaccine which increase your protection against COVID-19. Moderna has been shown to increase your protection 37-fold from the new Omicron variant.  Learn more about the effectiveness of a vaccine booster, from the CDC, here.

The key to staying safe during a pandemic is understanding how it has changed and adapting your own personal habits accordingly. Although we are still in the midst of this global health emergency, there have been some great strides made towards ending COVID-19. Wearing a mask, practicing good hygiene, getting vaccinated, and social distancing all play a part in ending the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.