Do you ever feel so stressed out that you want to curl up in a ball, close your eyes and wish you could wake up on the beach in Bali?
Stress and anxiety can have many triggers. Maybe you get stressed when things don’t go according to plan (which let’s be honest, is 99% of the time) …
Or when you have way too much on your plate and not enough time for yourself – relaxing, working out, cooking, socializing …
Or when no matter how much you express yourself, it just feels like no one understands you …
Or when you want to make healthier and more positive choices in your life, but you continue to do the exact opposite and can’t figure out why …
It can feel like there is no end to the negative cycles of stress and the physical and emotional symptoms that occur because of it – lack of focus, poor sleep, exhaustion, poor digestion, increased irritability, lack of motivation, fear, emotional eating, weight gain, weight loss …
As I’m working on completing my Ayurveda training, coaching clients, planning for live events and workshops, I’m also getting ready for a cross-country move and managing some personal day-to-day challenges as well. With all that going on, I’ve noticed my stress levels getting more elevated than usual. There have been days where I’ve felt extra sensitive, extra irritated and extra emotional – feelings that were all too familiar to me for years.
Lessons From The Past
For most of my mid-20’s I struggled with depression and feelings of intense sadness, loneliness, and anger. Not knowing how to work through these feelings caused me to turn to alcohol, food and loads of self-criticism, guilt and shame in an effort to numb the pain. It felt like everyone around me was against me and didn’t understand me. Hell, I didn’t even understand myself. I felt stuck, confused and frustrated. At times I felt downright terrified because I had no idea how to get out of the cycles of stress, anxiety and depression that were controlling my life.
The truth is, I couldn’t break out of it alone. I finally reached out for support and did the work I needed to do to get back in control of my life – therapy, meditation, energy healing, you name it.
And these days when I’m stressed out, instead of reverting to my old self-defeating ways, I’m able to move forward, continue taking care of my emotional and physical health and maintain a sense of balance, confidence, and enthusiasm in my life (although not always perfect).
6 Ways To Beat Stress And Anxiety
I get what stress can do to you and those around you and that’s why I wanted to share some of the most effective techniques that I’ve experienced to help overcome stress and anxiety so you can live a healthier and happier life and feel free again…because you deserve it!
Breath is something we take for granted. We don’t even notice the power it holds. The breath is what gives us life. It is literally our life force. It helps carry oxygen to the cells in our body, de-stress and detoxify and connects us to the true essence of our being – our spirit.
When we are connected to our breath and our spirit, we are also connected to Universal Intelligence – the highest wisdom that gives us the guidance that we need to live more fulfilled and purposeful lives. From this place we are able to take right action for our highest good and the good of those around us. The awareness we gain from taking a pause and becoming conscious of our breath and body allows us to make better choices for our health without forcing ourselves to. It gives us choice instead of keeping us trapped in the victim mentality. It allows us to follow our intuition instead of letting fear guide us.
However, when we get stressed out, our breathing becomes shallow and we experience a “disconnection” from our bodies. From this place we experience fear, anxiety, worry and many times irrational behavior.
We end up looking to the people and circumstances outside of ourselves as the causes of our problems as well as the solutions to them, instead of owning the power we have to transform and heal our lives. In order to alleviate stress, it’s essential to reconnect to the breath.
Spending even just 5 minutes a day in silent meditation, doing some pranayama breathing or simply focusing on your breath will dramatically improve your overall mental, physical and emotional well-being. The key is consistency.
Essential oils are becoming more popular than ever because of their healing properties. Although I don’t believe in ingesting them, diffusing them as aromatherapy is incredibly healing to the mind.
Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing science that originated in India, often recommends specific essential oils to help calm the nervous system, or Prana Vata. As I mentioned above, the breath is extremely healing to the mind and body.
Supplementing the breath with certain aromas can have instant calming effect on the mind to help you stay happier, more relaxed and even get better sleep.
Just like meditation allows you to connect to source energy for healing, sleep does the same thing. We are an incredibly sleep-deprived society and don’t place the importance we should on this much-needed aspect of our health.
Proper sleep is essential for stress reduction, weight management, reducing cravings, detoxification and rejuvenation. Ideally, you want to aim to get to bed by 10pm and wake up by 6am or 7am.
Proper sleep will help keep you more focused, clear, productive and healthy. Resting is an action. If there is one thing you take away from this article, make it that.
Caffeine, alcohol, too much cold or raw food, processed foods, foods high in sugar or refined flours can all aggravate your nervous system and make you feel more stressed out and anxious. Take a good look at the foods you eat every day. If you realize you’re eating a lot of cold, raw foods such as juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches, consider adding some more warm, cooked meals into your routine.
If you realize you’re mainly eating packaged and processed foods, add more whole foods to your meals. If you’re having coffee every morning, consider eating a warm, nourishing breakfast first and taking a break from it for a week to see how you feel.
When I moved out of New York City, I found myself going on beautiful runs and spending a lot more time in nature. This was extremely calming to my nervous system (which was shot after 14 years in NYC!).
Often when we experience worry, fear and anxiety, we feel ungrounded – almost as if we can be swept up and away at any moment. In order to feel balanced, we need to experience a sense of stability and security.
Spending more time in nature, with the earth, can offer that groundedness. I recommend taking daily walks or runs outside whenever possible. Even better, get your bare feet in touch with the ground. This has been shown to instantly calm the mind and body down.
6. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
When we experience any stressful situation, whether physical or emotional, our bodies store that trauma in order to protect us in the future. However, the only thing that it usually does is keep us in continuous cycles of fear and anxiety. When this happens, the energy that flows through our body becomes stuck.
This is what causes uncomfortable emotions, pain and even illness. It’s necessary to unblock this stuck energy and change your thinking and perceptions about your problems in order for lasting healing to occur. This is exactly what EFT does.
Most of the time when we feel negative emotions it can seem like they come out of nowhere. However, every emotion is preceded by a thought (or series of thoughts), we’re just not aware of all of them. EFT can unlink the thought-emotion connection that keeps you making and experiencing the same negative habits and outcomes.
Similar to acupuncture, but without the use of needles, EFT works to release and redirect stuck energy in the body by tapping on certain points of the body and repeating specific phrases.