Anxiety and Stress Management

We all react to occasional anxiety and stress in different ways, so it makes sense that there would also be different ways to cope with these conditions. The key is finding out what works for you. Some of us benefit from calm meditation, whether alone or in a group. Others respond better to music and a good pair of headphones. For some, lively interaction with friends or pets is better than quiet introspection. Any method that helps you and hurts no one else is valid. If you can't think of a good way to mitigate stress, reach out to a therapist, who may be able to give you some ideas or set your mind at ease that you're on the right track.


Sleep is the brain's way of organizing its experiences and preparing for another day. When we sleep, the brain takes out the trash, ridding itself of unnecessary proteins and regenerating its resources. In stress management, perhaps no single element is as important as regular, high-quality sleep. You can help your systems recuperate by sticking to a regular sleep schedule as much as you can. Keep an eye on your caffeine and alcohol intake late in the day, as they can disrupt your sleep pattern. The same goes for eating large meals in the evening. Limit your exposure to electronic devices around bedtime, too. Ironically, our electronic devices can also help here, with apps that will warn you when you've reached your allotted screen time limit.


When it comes to stress relief, exercise is a powerful tool at your disposal. There's no need to pull off heroics; just getting up and becoming more active can be enough to start with. Getting your heart rate up improves circulation, helping your brain and body get the oxygen-rich blood they need. Your body will help you along by producing endorphins, which can make exercise enjoyable. A nice run can calm your mind so you can focus on the task at hand, letting you forget about the causes of your stress. Keep in mind that you shouldn't start an intense exercise program right away. If it's been a while since you were active, start with gentle stretching and walking. Then, find a park or nature trail and go for a hike. Graduate to jogging or playing tennis when you're ready. If you have health conditions that might make exercise a challenge, consult your doctor before you start.


Your brain is about 75% water, so staying hydrated is crucial to keeping it thriving. In addition to water intake, a healthy, balanced diet is key. Unless you have other underlying health conditions, there's no need for a fancy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be the basis of your intake. You can add whole grains as needed, like those found in wheat bread and brown rice. Whole grains are nutritionally complete, providing cholesterol-lowering fiber, bran for managing blood sugar, and healthy minerals all in one package. For protein, choose lean meats, beans, peas, or lentils. Boost your protein intake with tofu or dairy sources (like cottage cheese and yogurt) if desired.


When occasional anxiety or stress grind you down and make you feel unfulfilled, hobbies can come to the rescue. Any leisure activity that can distract your mind from depressing or self-destructive thoughts can work here. Intrusive negativity can have a harder time taking hold when you're concentrating on finishing a stitch or completing the next video game level. When you finish a section of a puzzle or complete part of your family tree project, you get a shot of positive emotion and a feeling of accomplishment as a bonus. If you don't have a hobby you consider a stress-reliever, set a goal to find one. The search for a new hobby can itself be an exciting adventure, as you delve into the worlds of knitting, mobile games, or herb gardening. You'll read about interesting topics, and maybe you'll find one that really speaks to you.

Staying Connected

If you're separated from loved ones and you miss the comfort of their company, technology has you covered. Free mobile apps can bring your family and friends closer than ever before. Nothing will replace an in-person visit, but seeing their faces in real time and hearing their voices can bring comfort and calm. You might find other apps useful, such as those that promote mindfulness or mental sharpness. Apps like these focus your attention and may help you live in the moment, temporarily forgetting about the stressors in your life. Here again, it's important to limit screen time and make sure technology isn't adding to your stress. If you find world news upsetting, turn off notifications from those apps and steer clear of them during your relaxation time. Even if keeping up to date on current events is part of your job, you can distance yourself for a short time and give yourself a chance to recharge.