Top 4 Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety Fast!

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Do you want to combat and manage stress and anxiety for good? Are you really sick to death of the suffering? I don’t want to appear funny, but there are people who claim to want to heal themselves, but don’t actually do anything. It’s hard to believe, but the amount of people that I’ve come across who moan and winge about life, yet don’t get inspired to take any action baffles me. Then it dawned on me why this could happen…hard to believe, but some people actually feel great by feeling bad.

I couldn’t believe this when I heard it, at least on a conscious level. Yet, (and I know I shouldn’t really admit this) I’ve been guilty of doing this myself. Certainly waking up in the early hours of the night, being angry and depressed at not having something, or having a bad time with my life didn’t helps things, and of course only re-conditions the subconscious (due to the fact that when you wake up, your brainwaves exhibit mostly Theta waves, which is used in some peoples cases to re-programme the subconscious). I woke up once and tried to study the depression that I was feeling, to try to get a grasp of the feeling that I was having while being in a nice comfy bed.

To the best of my knowledge, despite it feeling bad and dis-empowering, there was like an addiction to the depression I was feeling. Even when I realized what was going on, and tried to loosely fantasize a happier outcome, my subconscious would come roaring back with ‘oh that’s impossible, stop being delusional’ etc. It took quite the effort to somehow break this spell, by sheer mental willpower (which is never nice early in the morning).

So believe me when I say, while I sympathize that people have stress/anxiety and many other mental health problems, there are some people who subconsciously like this. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but learning to see if you a secretly sabotaging your success will go a long way to enable your recovery.

That is part of the reason why I started this blog, to try to help people with what I’ve experienced. Now, I’m not going to list all of my ills here, but I thought I would summarize what I believe to be the top 4 ways to reducing stress and anxiety. Here we go;-)

1- Meditation

Summary – can be used to great effect at reducing (and some people would say, eliminating) long term anxiety and stress. Has been around and used for thousands of years, and baring some ridiculous miracle posture that cures all ills, will be around for the next 50 thousands years (as far as I’m concerned, providing that we don’t destroy our planet due to spiritual ignorance, of course!!!). Has the ability to help reduce your ego mind chatter, and increase intuition.

Pros – Numerous benefits to list them all here, but the main basis is certainly an increase in spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. Ability to heal past emotional wounds, and also helps create mental clarity so that you can think more clearly on the task at hand, allowing you to finish your goals, hopefully to better your life. Can be said to help with out-of-body experiences as well, especially being in the, ‘now’.

Cons – Not many, really, but it can be an absolute bugger to get started, especially if you simply don’t know what to do, or you have severe stomach gut issues which prevent you from relaxing completely. All it really takes is for you to move your attention from your thought process, to either your body, your breathing, or even the sounds outside Do this for a few minutes, and you should start to feel a deep peace. The issues is that some people find this, in itself, difficult. We have been trained to use our minds all the time, and the invention of the Gregorian calendar didn’t really help things when it came to the invention of time (but that’s for another day;-). Still, you know what they say, practice makes perfect!!!

2- Diet

Summary – Well established fact, that if you want to change your lifestyle, what you put into your body also has a significant effect on how you think. Think of eating sweets, and feeling really restless and energetic, for example. So it goes without thinking, that if you want to have a goods nights sleep, drinking coffee at 9 pm (and it is said that caffeine has a half life of 6 hours!) isn’t really going to help matters. Get your diet right, and your head should follow (not sure if I read that somewhere, but thought I’ll put it in anyway:-)

Pros – It’s diet, what do you think? Nutritional food, with nutritional drink, will help keep the body healthy, and your thoughts calmer. Don’t forget, the mind and body are interrelated, so what you think will manifest (to some degree) with your body, and vice versa! (Think of stress related illnesses as one example). It has also been documented, that loving thoughts helps almost single handedly to help the molecules of the water (think of Dr. Emoto, and that famous water experiment). And as our bodies is made up of around 70% water, it’s not hard to imagine the power of feelings on the body.

Cons – Of course, if your busy, this is that last thing you will care about. Busy people eat whatever they can (they have do, they don’t have time to prepare a nutritional snack) and of course if they are busy, the chances are that they need as much energy as they possible can get their hands on.

So we’re talking chocolates, energy drinks, and so on. And don’t forget, you have your emotional eaters (of course) who will always eat something specific to keep their stress levels away (called a coping mechanism). The thing is, emotional eating and eating in a rush does no one any favors, and one needs to create a more healthier coping mechanism, and of course, manage your time better (always helps).

3- Sleep!

Summary – Getting your sleep is absolutely vital to keeping your stress levels to an all time low, as well as being able to focus on your goals, and having a clearer mind. I know I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the article I researched for stress and sleep here was one of the biggest eye-openers for me.

Quite simply, sleep does more than you think! Alright, you already knew that, but they say that it is always quality sleep rather than quantity that always counts. I’m going to go one step further and say that it is the amount of non-rem sleep that you have (don’t forget, your sleep in 90 min cycles, with REM, the eye-twitching one, being the last stage of this cycle. It is also the type of sleep that allows you to dream…whether you remember it or not is another matter;-).

But we need as much non-rem sleep as possible, due mainly (but not exclusively) to the good ol’ Human Growth Hormone being released, probably given us that, ‘freshness’ that we feel when we wake up after a good night.

The thing is, we cannot plan how much non-rem sleep we’re going to have, that is why it is recommended that we have between 7 to 8 hours. Of course, there are those people who use delta CD’s and meditation to help…

Pros – Getting a good, refreshing sleep as numerous benefits, from improved memory, to reducing the risk of some physical ailments, to improved cognitive functioning, and of course, feeling great for the day. It allows you to keep your focus, and helps reduce your stress and anxiety levels (or at the very least, allows you to manage them more effectively).

Cons – For those insomniacs, or people with other sleep disorders, and of course, people who work nights, sleep is a luxury they simply cannot have. Meditation will help, but ultimately, a change in lifestyle may be required (especially those people who are too stressed, or even on a burnout to get any hours of sleep at all). I hate to say this, but medication, or sleeping pills may be the only way. But only if you are able to take the side effects…

4- EFT

Summary – I had heard of EFT before I started my blog, and to be honest with you, when I did my research for my post, EFT and Stress, I didn’t learn anything too new…

Having said that, I did learn a few more things. Firstly, the Chinese used a version of acupuncture (which later inspired EFT) to help treat physical illnesses, not emotional ones. And secondly, EFT can be used to treat nearly everything emotionally bound.

It’s free, it’s quick and best of all, it’s fun. And there’s nothing better than feeling better and like a huge weight has been lifted off of you shoulders. I’ve used it myself to help reduce my OCD to around 60%, have used it for a job interview, to get better focus, and even (and this even surprised me…) get more energy.

That’s right, using EFT in a certain way can get you more energy and help you feel more refreshed (although truth be told, I used it after a decent nights sleep and after meditation, so perhaps the two can work hand in hand…food for thought).

EFT is fast becoming huge popular, due to it’s widespread, and natural benefits.

Pros– Too many to list here, but mainly nearly all psychological conditions and some physical ones (as it is said that many illness are stress induced illnesses). EFT has been said to help reduce autism symptoms, and can also vastly help with PTSD, depression, and many other ailments. It can take as little as a few minutes each day, and the results can be long lasting.

Cons– Not too many, but I did notice in my research that the people who really benefit with EFT are the ones who do it longer than 5 minutes, so perhaps EFT isn’t the shortest treatment of them all (depends I suppose, on the problem at hand). Also, EFT isn’t perfect, and can’t cure all conditions physical or otherwise, under the sun. There are of course, limitations, as to what you can use EFT for. And don’t forget, it has it’s own competition in the likes of PSTEC and IST (which I will be doing future articles about, so watch this space.)

Like meditation, you have to dedicate a certain amount of time to get the maximum benefit from EFT, and some stressful people simply do not have that time. But if you do have 5 minutes to spare, it’s not a bad place to start, even if it does look silly…

What’s your favorite coping mechanism for stress, anxiety or depression? Let me know in the box below;-)

 

Want To Eat Your Way To Stress Relief? Here Are 13 Ways To Do It!

It’s a familiar story. You come home feeling tired and anxious. It’s been a long day. You walk in, dreary, wanting to crash on the couch. You put the TV on, and watch some late comedy show. But you’re not laughing. Life feels bad, and your sick of your boss.

Suddenly, an idea pops into your head, and you go to the cupboard Inside you find some chocolate and some coke. You munch that chocolate down, and you feel a bit better, but the comedy on the TV still isn’t there, so you go to the fridge and find that gorgeous tasty chocolate chip pudding.

You scoff that down, and now you feel great!

The world seems a better place. The tension in your shoulder are gone, and that headache from the meeting that you have just come from is now disappearing. And guess what, the guy on the TV isn’t that bad. You find him mildly amusing, and start laughing at his jokes.

You know you have to go back to work tomorrow to finish the presentation, and you’re dreading it, worried that it might turn into a disaster. But that is a long way off at the moment. That is for another day…

And you slump further into your couch, because you know that the world seems a safer place.

Screw the diet you are on, you’re here on this planet to have fun…

This is a story that is played out in real life in some peoples homes, and while we could do with practicing meditation or doing some exercise, diet is equally an important ingredient in reducing our stress and anxiety skills. Or to put it another way, it is another cog in helping you cope better with your stress and anxiety symptoms, and should not be ignored.

But the reality is, there are still many of us who still use junk food as a coping mechanism to try to eliminate stress in our lives, and while we know it isn’t good for us, we would rather have a short term gain, rather than a ling term solution.

Why?

Because it’s easier, and doesn’t involve much mental effort. And I’ve been there. There have been times when I’ve been involved in a job, where the stress starts to build up. What I should’ve done is to take a 5 min timeout, or hymn a nice loving tune to myself to relieve the symptoms by dissolving the anchor (or even go to my car/go to the toilets, and do some quick EFT. Please see this article about EFT and stress).

Instead, what I actually do is take the easy option, which does my body (and in turn, my mind) no good, and eat some chocolate…several in fact…to help me take my mind off something.

Emotional eating, as it’s called, is the quick and easy way to reduce stress and anxiety, in the moment.

However, the problem with emotional eating, is that it stops the anxiety for a brief moment. The problem doesn’t go away, and can lead you to keep on eating, just to feel better.

The differences of emotional hunger and normal hunger are shown below:

Normal Eating

Emotional Eating

Normal hunger doesn’t make you feel bad when you eat

Emotional eating can trigger the feelings of guilt, shame and feeling powerless to do anything about it

Being physically hunger gives you options. Most foods are appealing

When you are emotionally hungry, you want to eat specific types of food

Physical hunger will always come on slowly

Emotional hunger always comes quickly, and nearly always over a trigger

Physical hunger is stopped when you are full up

Emotional hunger isn’t finished when your stomach is full

You can keep being physically hungry for a while. It can wait

Emotional hunger feels like it has to be instantly satisfied

This can sometimes be a recurring issues, but for some people, it’s a big problem.

Diet and stress go hand in hand, just as much as meditation and stress, and exercise and stress. Diet is no different!

Yet, how do we make the switch between eating chocolate and sugars (which makes the body work hard, and as a result, induce more stress) to eating nuts and fruit?

  • One of the easiest ways of doing it is to find out what is triggering this emotional easting habit. How do we do that? By being conscious, to the best of our ability, on our emotional state, and adjust accordingly if the state starts to get bad. Just monitoring our emotional state will help increase our emotional intelligence, and will also alert us if we are feeling down or bad enough to result in emotional eating.

  • Another way we can do it is to stop for 5 mins before we rush off to the canteen, or to the fridge, or cupboard. Emotional eating tends to be a quick, sudden sensation. Putting it off, although requires at times high amounts of self discipline, is a great way of trying to distract yourself so you are made more conscious of what you are doing, and as a result try alternative therapies inside. Try squeezing a stress ball, or eating some healthy nuts (which can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety).

Can’t do 5 mins as it seems to much? Try a couple instead. That should be enough to get you to stop thinking about that chocolate bar and soda, and start thinking (boring though it may sound) on the water (which is great, strangely, for reducing stress in the body) and nuts.

  • Another way you can stop the quick rush to the dining room, is to create a quick relief schedule of tips and techniques you can do when the going gets tough. You can step outside and go into the privacy of your car if you wish to do a quick session of EFT, or you can meditate instead for a few minutes (and yes, you can do that!). Try and create a list of techniques that you know will work for you, and adhere to them on a daily basis. If you job allows you to, try and go for a brisk 5 min walk, or if you are at your desk, hymn your favorite tune. The trick here is to substitute that bit of junk food for a more healthier, favorable version. Try buying some Gogi berries, and slowly munch those. Whatever it takes to get rid of that sudden need to dash to the fridge.

  • Don’t forget, get your sleep! In an article about sleep and stress reduction, I talked about the importance of sleep on allowing you to de-stress, think more clearly and have a sharper mental edge. When it comes to diet, sleep is also a vital ingredient. It is no accident that when we haven’t had much sleep or we are sleepy, we want to have a chocolate bar or some sweets to give us that extra energy, rather than having an apple or an orange.

Don’t forget that your body has two hormones, which regulate the normal feelings of fullness and hunger. Leptin gives the brain signals when we are full, and Ghrelin tells the brain when we are hungry.

The thing is, when we have little sleep, your Ghrelin levels go up and your Leptin levels go down. This basically means you want to eat more, and you don’t feel satisfied when you do.

Getting your quality sleep helps reduce your stress levels significantly, as well as allowing you to have more natural energy which can indirectly increase your will power to stop emotional eating.

You will feel more refreshed, more mentally focused, and rather than going for the chocolate bar in the canteen, will go for an apple at break time instead. And your body will thank you for it!

stress16So you find a way to control your urges, then what? To be successful at substantially reducing your stress and anxiety in the long run, you need to create a proper diet to help keep your stress levels to an all time low.

The foods and drinks listed below will contribute (to some degree) to keeping a healthy body, which will help your mental faculties and reduce stress and anxiety in the moderate and long run.

Incorporate some of the foods and drinks below, while exercising, meditating, and getting your required sleep, and your stress and anxiety levels should start to be reduced almost immediately.

 

  • Breakfast Cereal- Cereals are plenty in essential minerals and Vitamins. They can be a great source of stress beating B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Folic acid and Fibre.

 

  • Fish have a high dose of B Vitamins, in particular the stress reducers B6 and B12. It is said that a B12 deficiency can lead to depression.

 

  • Almonds are a great way to reduce stress- These nuts are packed with Vitamin B2 (which is Riboflavin), Vitamin E, Zinc and Magnesium. Magnesium and Riboflavin are used in the production of Serotonin which helps relieve the stress and regulate your mood. Zinc has been shown to help fight against some of the negative forms of stress, while Vitamin E is an antioxidant that kills the free radicals that correlates to heart disease and stress. As they are high in fat, however, it is recommended to have just a small handful to eat.

 

  • Broccoli and Spinach- Full of stress relieving B Vitamins, and has the extra benefit of containing Folic acid. Folic acid helps relieve anxiety attacks, stress and depression, and is also high in fibre. Spinach has a high dose of Vitamin C and Magnesium, which helps the regulation of your cortisol levels and helps increase your mood and well-being

 

  • Chicken and Turkey- High source of amino acid L-Tryptophan which calms and helps the mind by allowing the release of Serotonin. Turkey is a good source of Protein, which helps promote the stable blood sugar levels and, as a result, reduce stress.

 

  • Cottage Cheese and Cantaloupe– Cantaloupe is a high source of Vitamins C, which is a stress reducer. Don’t forget, continuous stress depletes Vitamin C in the adrenal glands, so you need to keep a high level of it. Also helps regulate your heartbeats and helps increase the oxygen supply to the brain. Cottage Cheese has high source of Vitamin B12 and B2, Calcium and Protein, which will reduce the anxiety.

 

  • Blueberries- Very high in Vitamin C and E, Magnesium, Manganese and antioxidants and therefore helps reduce cortisol levels. Its also low in calories and a high source in Fibre.

 

  • Whole Grain Rice or Pasta- Brown rice contains Folic acid and B Vitamins, which helps reduce anxiety and stress. They are also high in Carbohydrates, which means that they boost your serotonin levels. Complex Carbohydrates are digested more slowly and will make you feel more fuller and more happier for a longer period of time.

 

  • Nuts- High source in Serotonin boosting L-Tryptophan and full of B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Zinc, Magnesium, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The Magnesium and B Vitamins regulate mood and relieve stress by giving a boost to Serotonin, Magnesium in particular helps with avoiding headaches and fatigue, while Zinc has been shown to fight of some of the negative effects of stress. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps destroy the free radicals relating to stress and heart disease

 

  • Oranges- High levels of Vitamin C, which is important as distress destroys your Vitamin C levels and your body doesn’t replenish Vitamin C naturally. It also boosts the immune system, lowers your level of cortisol and is also an antioxidant, which helps monitor those free radicals and repairs the body.

 

  • Dried apricots- High in the mineral Magnesium, which is a stress reducer. Magnesium is essential for healthy cells and helps relax your muscles. Also a good source in Vitamin C which helps promote your immune system.

 

  • Flaxseed oil- Helps the brain functions and improves mood swings as it promotes Omega 3 Fatty acids.

 

  • Asparagus- Contains Folic acid and Vitamin B, which helps increase the production of Serotonin, which is used to help soothe your mood levels.

 

For drink:

 

  • Drinking Chamomile tea is a gentle relaxant that acts like a nerve tonic and promotes healthy sleeping.

 

  • Herbal Tea– Catnip, Lemon balm, Skullcap, Passionflower, Hops, or Valerian. Pick up raw herbs from a herb seller and steep in hot water at your desired strength.

 

  • Honey infused tea- Dried herbs infused with honey for 2 weeks. Mix 1 tablespoon of the tea/honey mixture with hot water, milk, or hot coconut milk. This will help you to relax and de-stress.

 

  • Green tea- Contains L-Theanine, which is an amino acid that helps soothes you and boosts your general mood. Try to go for decaffeinated tea, so the L-Theanine is at its strongest.

 

  • Water- Don’t forget, our bodies are made up by mostly water, so when you drink water you are helping out your organs, which when dehydrated, can cause you stress. Having just half a litre dehydrated of water in your body may increase your Cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Therefore, keeping your body in a hydrated state will help keep your stress levels to a minimum.

 

  • Milk- High in anti-oxidants, Vitamins B12 and B2, Calcium and Protein. Your blood pressure is actually lowered, thanks to the protein Lactium and the potassium can help relieve the muscle spasms that can be triggered due to feeling stressed and tense. This is why having a warm glass before going to bed helps with insomnia.

 

Foods and drinks to avoid:

 

  • Try to eliminate Coffee, Tea and other caffeinated drinks- Go for black tea instead, which contains flavonoids that help block the signals that produces the, ‘fight-or-flight’ response in your nervous system.

 

  • Refined sugar- Stripped of nutrients, but the fluctuations they cause in the blood sugar and insulin levels leads to poor levels of concentration and being irritable.

 

  • High sodium foods- Liquid is attracted to Sodium like a magnet, so when you ingest more sodium, you keep more liquid which works your heart more, increases your blood pressure and can lead to water retention, bloating, and puffiness. This drains your energy and increases your stress levels.

 

  • Sweets and Candy- Contains high amounts of sugar, which although gives an initial boost of energy, creates a crash afterwards. Due to the overwhelming fatigue it brings, can make your mood irritable.

 

  • Crisp/ Potato Chips- Contains high amounts of Salts which retains water and makes you dehydrated. Fast food, and French Fries are high in Fat and Salt. The grease causes digestion problems.

 

  • Junk food in general- Due to poor nutritional content, are stress inducing. If the body doesn’t get enough of the necessary nutrients, its ability at being able to handle stress are lowered.

 

  • Caffeine- Popularly used as a stimulant. Stimulates the nervous system, which can lead to an increase in heartbeats and blood pressure. Also irritates your digestive system. Increased caffeine also interferes with the sleep cycles and trigger dehydration, takes your energy away and can cause headaches.

 

  • Alcohol- Stimulates the production of the same hormones the body creates when under stress. The two in fact can feed of each other: alcohol can lengthen the feelings of tension that is brought on by stress and the stress reduces the nice effects of alcohol and can give you more of a craving.

 

So there you go. Hopefully you’ll be able to take this list away, and create a suitable diet that you can use to reduce your stress and anxiety to an all time minimum.

But what do you think. I would love to hear your thoughts, in the box below;-)