Anxiety has become commonplace in our society today. My husband teaches at a high school and they’ve recently started a block for stress management. Students can take courses like yoga, coloring, meditation, Tai Chi, and even knitting. We are all bombarded daily with so. much. stuff. If you think about it, we are the generation of multi-tasking. We work while listening to podcasts, we text during dinner conversations. We need TV on as “background noise”. We have trained our brains to be constantly stimulated to the point where short-term memory is being impacted. The pressures of our society have gone beyond just getting into college, and we’re now living double - sometimes triple - lives on the internet. It’s no wonder we’re all feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
I’ve battled my anxiety for so long, and over the past decade I’ve nailed down some of the best (and accessible!) practices that have helped me manage anxiety.
Get Enough Sleep
Some people are fine with 5 hours a night. Me? If I don’t have close to 9 hours, I’m useless. Whatever your magic number is, make sure to prioritize sleep. I know this is easier said than done (trust me, I have a toddler who is a terrible (literally, awful) sleeper. On the days that he was up a few times the night prior, I’ll make sure to leave my phone in the other room and close my eyes for even 20 minutes while he’s napping. Again, I know a great night’s sleep isn’t always realistic but at the very least, try and limit your screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. It’ll definitely help turn your brain off.
Quit the Instagram Game
I got this tip from Jordan @thebalancedblonde, and it has seriously made my social media experience SO MUCH BETTER. I no longer get lost for hours scrolling aimlessly through stories, or fall down the rabbit hole of the comparison game. When I’m on Instagram (not for work), I'll allow myself to spend max 30 minutes and I choose only 5 people's stories to watch. That way, I'm being more deliberate about the content I'm choosing to consume, and I don't feel like I've lost control falling deep into the 'gram. If this feels a bit too much like plunging into an ice cold pool, try simply turning off notifications.
Start a Yoga Practice
A yoga practice is about so much more than being able to touch your toes. I started my yoga journey in 2006 after battling years of anxiety and depression. It quickly became a “workout” but after my yoga teacher training in 2015, I realized how beneficial the practice was beyond the asana (poses). Breathwork, or pranayama, is my personal favorite yoga practice, and has been a huge part of my healing. A Harvard Medical School publication mentioned “shallow breathing limits the diaphragm's range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn't get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.” Creating the habit of deep breathing in your day-to day (or even before you fall asleep at night!) will for sure, make a world of difference.
limit alcohol intake
It’s no secret that alcohol is a downer. For years, I battled depression and anxiety and always grabbed for a glass of wine or a beer to take the edge off. The effects were immediate and I was able to “let go”…that is until a few hours later when I was suddenly upset and terribly anxious (not to mention a terrible night’s sleep). If this seems daunting, try replacing every other drink with a seltzer or glass of water - you’ll stay hydrated!
There you have it, lovely souls. I’d love to know how you manage day-to-day anxiety and stress! Leave a comment and let me know if I should add anything to my list :)