There’s much to love about living in the modern world. It’s more convenient and comfortable, in material terms than ever before, and that’s not something that we should take for granted. However, it’s not all fun and games: there are areas of life that have worsened. Take issues such as stress and anxiety, which have been on the rise in recent years — and are set to become more prevalent in the next decade. We’ve put so much emphasis on advancement and progress that handling these issues is usually well down the priorities list. But if you’re living with stress and anxiety, then you’ll know just how debilitating they can be. Below, we take a look at a few tried and tested methods for reducing levels of both conditions.
Run It Out
You know how it is when you’re feeling stressed; you just want to somehow escape, to run away from the problems. Alas, that’s not an option, not yet, but you can take a look at something else: literally running. Putting on your running shoes and going for a long jog is an excellent way to rid yourself of that nervous energy, and has been shown to calm the mind and give your mood a boost. If it has been some time since you last did some exercise, then give it a go — you might just be surprised at how good you feel afterward.
Humanity has spent a long time trying to escape nature, which is understandable to a degree (nobody wants to be eaten by a lion), but we’ve come to realize that we do, in fact, need nature in our lives to be at our best. It might be considered normal by social standards to live in a city, but it’s not so conducive to a relaxing life. Your mind is nearly continually subjected to buzzing sounds and lights, which keep the stress levels up. There are none of those things in nature; so long as you’re safe from predators (which is more or less everywhere these days), then you’ll fall into a calm rhythm. Indeed, studies have shown that two hours of nature time a week (either all at once or in blocks) can have a dramatically positive effect on stress levels.
Not everything that can be considered “good for us” is comfortable. Sometimes, we have to push ourselves a little, but the rewards make it more than worth it. This is the case with cold showers. You would, of course, much prefer to spend a relaxing ten minutes in a warm shower, but if you’re trying to improve your mental health, then you should consider turning the nozzle all the way to the coldest part. It’s not enjoyable to do, admittedly, but it does lower your stress levels and can help fight the symptoms of depression, too. Plus, it’s invigorating. It’s a few minutes of discomfort for a day of happiness — that’s a good trade.
Meditation has come a long way in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago that it was considered to be the reserve of eastern cultures and western hippies, but now, it is considered mainstream. And you can see why. In terms of ways to combat the stresses of modern life, there’s nothing better than meditation, and that’s a claim that is backed up by science. After a ten minute session, you’ll feel different — it really is powerful. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at downloading a meditation app. There are plenty of good ones that’ll walk you through the basics.
Whatever you’re doing to combat your feelings of stress and anxiety, it’s a good idea to look at supplementing your efforts with natural substances. There are many that have been shown to reduce the symptoms — and some use dates back thousands of years, so it has tried and tested pretty well. Palo santo and incense can be lit in the home to create a calming atmosphere. You can also buy CBD pods here, and reduce the anxiety that way. Green tea and lemon balm have also been shown in studies to have an effect, so look at having both well-stocked in your cupboards.
Limit the Tech
There are many reasons why anxiety and stress have been on the rise, but perhaps the most influential factor has been the rise of smartphone and laptop use. While these devices are good for many things, it’s also true that they’re far from relaxing. They keep your mind in a state of alertness, which makes it harder to relax. This isn’t something that Apple and Facebook and co tell you, though. If you’ve had an unusually stressful or anxious week, take a look at switching off the tech for a while. You’ll feel uncomfortable for the first ten minutes or so, but you’ll quickly fall into a more peaceful state.
Alcohol and Caffeine
If you’re already a little bit anxious, then it’s best to avoid both alcohol and caffeine, or to at least reduce your intake. Both of these will cause a spike. You need coffee to get through the day, and alcohol to socialize, but there are better alternatives available. Instead of waking up with a coffee, consider going for a run and then taking a cold shower. It’s harder to do away with alcohol, but you could challenge yourself to give up drinking for a month. Once you know it’s not an option, you’ll find that it’s not as difficult to cut out alcohol as you might have thought.
Talk With Friends
The thing with stress and anxiety is that it can be self-breeding. Once we’ve fallen into it, our (anxious) mind can get to work, and push us further down the rabbit hole. We have to let go of those thoughts somehow! So look at talking things through with friends and family, and getting your thoughts off your chest. You might just find that your stress stands on shaky foundations once you’ve said the causes aloud.