Does it seem like you can’t catch your breath? Maybe you are juggling two jobs, trying to pay attention to family members, and also getting dinner on the table. Or perhaps you overbooked your schedule and are now wondering what to “drop” for the week to make it work. Despite whatever events you have, you may feel more “short-circuited” than usual, perhaps less patient towards people. That sense of agitation or anxiety is quite common when you have a lot going on, but it can also significantly impact you and your relationships.
So, how do you manage stress so it doesn’t get the best of you? Below are suggestions that can help you manage your stress.
Make sure to take a moment and breath slowly.
As you recognize that you are getting flustered and feeling overwhelmed, take a pause. In that moment of pause, be sure to take slow breaths. It might seem like a simple solution to improve the situation, and it is! While slowly breathing is not a “magic wand” to completely relieve anxiety, and not everyone is advised to slow down their breathing, it can certainly help improve anxiety. As you try to slow down breathing, you are also focusing on the breath, which means that you are not focused on agitation or anxiety and thus, you have a pause or break from the anxiety. Slowing down breathing also relaxes your body, while anxiety “revs it up” and is stressful on the body as it creates tension. When you slow down your breathing, your body is also more relaxed, which better positions you to have calmer thoughts and emotions.
Use anxiety to your advantage.
It’s common and expected to experience some anxiety. Rather than thinking about how to get rid of it, you can consider how to use or “channel” it in a productive way. This might look like making or going through a to-do list. You may consider what you want to get done alongside how anxious you are. If you are really anxious, then exercise might be a useful option. If you are moderately anxious, then perhaps cleaning the home, starting a project or working ahead on one that is already in process may be the best option. Suppose you are overwhelmed with a sense of having little time to complete tasks or activities on your to-do list. In that case, you may want to consider the pause and slowed breathing option in order to clear your head so you can be deliberate about how to organize the time in front of you best.
Reach out for social support.
You might be surprised to find out that a lot of people struggle with anxiety, so you are certainly not alone, and reaching out to friends and family can be helpful. This might look like talking with a friend and letting them know what is burdening you and generating anxiety, or perhaps you speak with a family member and update them on what’s going on with you. Openly discussing your experience of anxiety can often help improve it, allow you to feel connected to others in the process, and also help you discover new things about yourself. Your family and friends might have a different view of the situation, so they can be resources to provide a listening ear and different insights that can be helpful. By sharing your experience of anxiety or not keeping it to yourself, you will “carry” less and thus feel lighter with less burden. Be sure to consider who you are reaching out to, and have confidence that the person you are sharing with will be helpful to you.
Overall, you can manage and improve anxiety by taking moments to participate in slower breathing, considering and following through on ways to use anxiety to your advantage, and reaching out for social support to a trusted friend or family member. While your anxiety may not completely “go away,” it can be improved and managed with a little practice!
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