Lifestyle

4 Simple Steps to Help you Cope with Stress and Anxiety

June 14, 2021

Financial bills, arguments with your loved ones, performance reviews at work - many of us know the feeling where our heart is beating faster than usual in response to a stressful situation. This feeling is called anxiety. According to the American Psychology Association anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
Stress can indeed affect your body, your thoughts and feelings. Stress that is left unchecked can lead to numerous health problems such as making you look older (chronic stress contributes to premature aging), makes you gain weight (stressful overeating), can affect your love life (affects your testosterone levels and sexual desire) and many more implications.

Don't let your stress and anxiety build up to the point where you can't control it, follow these 4 simple tips to help you cope with stress and anxiety that will help balance your everyday life. 

1. Understand and recognize your triggers / what is causing you stress

whether it's an important job interview, presenting in front of a large group, or even confrontation. Everyone has their own triggers, and identifying them is key to managing your anxiety.  

Tip: Write down your emotions and your different triggers. This will help you acknowledge a similarity between them and help narrow down what your main trigger is.  


2. Focus on what you can change.

Oftentimes anxiety stems from fearing things that haven't even happened yet. It is normal to feel concerned about these uncertainties, putting pressure on you. But life can be unpredictable and now matter how hard we try, we can't always control the uncontrollable.  What we can do is decide how we can deal with the unknown by turning our anxiety into a source of strength by letting go of fear and focusing on gratitude. Focus on the controllable, because that will help you progress and relieve the source of uncertainty / stress. Focusing on the uncontrollable can be harmful for your body and prevent any progress. 

Example:

Fear: Losing your job

Refocus: Focus on how grateful you are to have a job and how you can improve your performance to increase your job security!

Action: Sit down, assess why you feel insecure with your job (e.g. skill gap), figure out the position you need to progress towards to alleviate the insecure feeling (e.g. buy a book or register in a course to improve that specific skill), then map out a plan of action with a timeline.


3. Practise deep breathing.

Try this breathing pattern called the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which forces the mind and body to focus on regulating the breath, rather than replaying your worries when you sleep at night. 

How to do it: Find a place to sit or lie down. Be sure you practice good posture.

  1. First make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.
  2. Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.
  3. Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath.
  4. Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds. 

When you inhale again, you initiate a new cycle of breath. Practice this pattern for four full breaths. 
Tip: Check out the meditation sessions in the Mental Health section of the wellness portal!

4. Focus on something less anxiety-provoking.

It may be most helpful to redirect yourself to something other than what is triggering your anxiety. Sometimes reaching out to family or friends to help ward off anxiety is beneficial. 

Here are some ideas of things you can do to distract yourself:

  • Go for a walk or engage in some form of physical exercise
  • Meditate 
  • Listen to music
  • Read a good book
  • Engage in creative activity (drawing, writing)

What's next?

Figure out what's bothering you, focus on what you can change, stop and breathe, and focus on something less anxiety provoking. Next time you feel your heart rate increasing and your stress overwhelming use these 4 tips to help understand your emotions and redirect your anxiety and stress into strength. 

Book a call with our Wellness Coordinator to learn more