We all went through a lot in 2020. Try these twenty-one tips to relieve stress and anxiety as we move into 2021.
2020 was a challenging year:
- The Coronavirus pandemic
- Job losses
- Financial fears
- Divisive politics and elections
- Police brutality
- Racial tension
If you’ve been feeling anxious and stressed, it’s no wonder!
The good news is that the human brain is incredibly resilient. You can course-correct feelings and give yourself some relief.
Here are twenty-two ideas.
Exercise gets stress-relieving endorphins pumping.
Regular exercise to relieve stress continues to lead the list. That’s because it decreases stress hormones, such as cortisol, and releases endorphins. That, in turn, improves your sleep quality. Any exercise routine will work, from dancing to walking to yoga or hitting the gym.
Schedule some sexy time.
Whether with your partner or flying solo, getting in a little sexy time can go miles toward relieving anxiety, tension, and stress.
When you orgasm, your body releases the hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream. Oxytocin, typically known as the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone, can lower anxiety and decrease stress.
Oxytocin can also induce a reduction of blood pressure and cortisol levels. It expands pain thresholds, deploys an anxiolytic-like effect, and stimulates various types of positive social interaction.
Not only do they feel good, but the benefits of orgasm for your mind and body are pretty spectacular.
CBD works with your endocannabinoid system to help alleviate anxiety and improve mood.
Continually emerging research indicates that CBD modifies your body’s serotonin signaling system. Research also shows that low serotonin levels correlate to a more significant stress response. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that shapes stress coping strategies and helps reduce cortisol through the endocannabinoid system.
CBD may decrease cortisol. The research findings suggest that people who took CBD had reduced anxiety levels. CBD can naturally improve mood, soothe anxiety, and modulate stress. Several studies report CBD is a remedy for anxiety.
Shine a light on stress.
Scented candles could reduce your perceptions of stress and anxiety; the same goes for aromatherapy’s essential oils and incense. Scents to consider are lavender, rose, orange blossom, geranium, and others.
Journaling can get it all out of your head and give you relief.
Write it out if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. A gratitude journal can help keep you positive. Positive thinking counteracts anxiousness and feelings of stress.
Socialize because having others around is imperative to our mental health.
Having a network of friends creates feelings of belonging and self-worth, which is a considerable boon in troubled times. One study showed men and women who lack social connections are more likely to be anxious and depressed.
Laughter truly is the best medicine when it comes to emotional struggles.
Laughing relieves your stress response and reduces tension. Over time, laughing can help improve mood and even your immune response.
So, get together with your funniest friends and family members!
Turn on Netflix and Binge-watch Friends or Modern Family (because, you know, they are just never not funny).
Ask Alexa to fart for you (one can never help but laugh at 8-year-old fart humor).
Read a laugh-out-loud kind of book, or listen to a funny podcast.
There are so many ways you can get the giggling going, and you should, because it will do you a whole lotta good.
Set boundaries; not only will this relieve your anxiety; it will help out another.
It’s all too easy for your life commitments to pile up, but when you allow others to dump theirs on you, too, it becomes a whole new ballgame. Learn the beautiful art of saying “no.”
Be selective about what you take on, who you let into your life, and what you agree to do, hear, or be subjected to.
Finally, make time for you, and only you, to reduce your stress levels.
Put off procrastination because leaving it to the last minute is a sure-fire recipe for tension, stress, and anxiety.
Set your priorities for the day or week’s to-do list. Staying on top of tasks leaves you less anxious and stressed about getting it all done. Give yourself the time to complete your work, and you won’t have to put out fires later.
Take a yoga class and release both physical and spiritual tension.
The practice of yoga increases your body and breath awareness and improves your mindfulness. Research shows yoga can enhance relaxation; it may be as good for your anxiety and stress as drugs because of its effect on your nervous system.
Mindfulness practices put you in the present moment. Some recommend enhancing your mindful mediation practice with cannabis. Being present helps fight negative thinking that can bring on anxiety, perhaps through improved self-esteem.
Techniques include cognitive behavior therapy, stress reduction, yoga, deep breathing, and meditation.
Snuggle up to warm and fuzzy the fear and anxiety away.
Physical contact like hugs and cuddling releases oxytocin and lowers cortisol, which means less stress and anxiety for everyone involved!
Music makes the world a happier place.
Mellow music and nature’s sounds induce relaxation, decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. There’s a reason why musicians like Jack Johnson, Erykah Badu, and Enya have been ever popular. New Age, classical, and indigenous music are also calming, which is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation, focus, spa, and meditation music.
Not your cup of tea? Crank up the sound of rousing rock ‘n roll if that’s what does it for you. Any rhythm or beat that gets your soul singing, your body moving, and your mind mellowing will be right in tune with the tranquility and peace your headspace needs.
Your parasympathetic nervous system controls your relaxation response. Deep breathing exercises (belly, abdominal, diaphragmatic, and paced breathing) help calm your PNS. Focus on a slow, deep breath through your nose to expand your lungs, then slowly and fully exhale to calm your heart rate and soothe your nerves.
Adopt a pet; your furry friend will soothe your stress levels.
A pet gives you purpose, keeps you active, and provides companionship — all things that help reduce stress and anxiety. The interaction between you and your furry family member helps release oxytocin, helping maintain a positive mood.
Take time for tea.
Several herbal teas, and green tea, are known to have calming effects on stress and anxiety: lemon balm, chamomile, and valerian root are the top contenders.
Also, consider a cup of lavender or rose petal tea. Green tea may help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing your serotonin levels.
Several CBD-enhanced teas are available on the market, as well; double the stress release in one cup of bliss!
As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat.”
Our daily diet can make a massive difference in the way we feel.
The proverbial colloquialism, ‘you are what you eat is the notion that to be fit and healthy in mind, body, and spirit, you need to consume good, whole, healthy things.
- Ditch the caffeine and alcohol to reduce their adverse effects on your stress levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce the symptoms of your anxiety and subsequent feelings of stress.
- Complex carbs tell your brain to make more serotonin.
Meditation makes the mind and spirit feel calm.
Meditation doesn’t require a lot of time; even if you only have five minutes on the bus, you can take advantage of meditation to induce calm, peaceful feelings.
Meditation can give you a new perspective and help you build stress management skills while also increasing imagination, creativity, patience, and tolerance. You can take a meditation class, look up techniques online, or download many great apps for your smart device.
Calm and Headspace are leading apps to help you meditate and improve your sleep. The apps, among other things, offer guided meditations, breathing exercises, music, and classes on calming your stress and anxiety. VeryWellMind rates Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace as the three top-rated apps (in that order).
Bedtime stories are not just for kids.
If it works for the littles, a read-aloud bedtime story will work for the grown-ups too.
Full of descriptive prose, these stories are written to put you to sleep – literally. Not only that, the soothing voices of the likes of Matthew McConaughey will encourage you to drift off to the Land of Nod.
Some apps feature sleep stories, guided meditations, and affirmations, but you can also find these things on Audible.
Being one of those people myself whose head never shuts up, I find that a good story before I got to sleep lets my mind engage in something other than life’s daily worries; enough so that I can relax, detach and get to sleep.
Finally, listening to something instructive or in tune with personal development lets me sleep on it and learn. As a result, I also boost my self-esteem and confidence because I feel like I am doing something productive, even in my sleep!
Learn to hypnotize yourself with your voice or just by thinking for a great stress management tool. A hypnotic state is a deeply relaxed state that fights tension and induces relaxation. It’s easy and affordable, and it has long-term effects.
Books, videos, apps, and professionals can help you learn to use this relaxation technique to counter stress and anxiety.
In addition to relaxation and stress relief, you can also use hypnosis to work on issues you’d like to address, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, manifestation, self-esteem, and more.
Consider hiring a life coach.
A life coach can help you identify blocks, face challenges, and see opportunities.
Anxiety and stress are mental and physical responses to how we feel about ourselves or the situations in our lives.
If we look at things differently, understand what raises our stress levels or anxiety, and learn to respond and think differently, those anxious feelings will naturally subside.
A good life coach can help us by asking the right questions and prompting us to find the answer we all have within ourselves.
Consult a therapist.
If none of these tips for natural ways to beat stress and anxiety work for you, it may mean you have more severe anxiety issues that stem from childhood trauma or life experiences.
As a result, it may be time to consider therapy. If your daily life is severely restricted by anxiety and stress, a therapist can help you sort through causes and develop coping techniques.
Lynette Garet is a bilingual freelance writer. A U.S. ex-pat living in Costa Rica with her wife Silvia, when not busy with writing projects, she can be found hanging with her favorite “stinky boys” (the Grand-Littles), tending to her garden, cooking, reading, enjoying good wine, and dancing in the kitchen to music from a limitless list of genres.