Best Ways to Manage Stress & Anxiety
The human mind is an incredible mechanism, processing thousands of thoughts each day. This amount of mental stimulation inevitably leads to stress while trying to process everything that we experience. Leaving stress unchecked can do more than just cause mental health issues but can lead to chronic health problems including heart disease and elevated blood pressure.
The good news is that most stress can be effectively managed using simple methods that can be incorporated into your daily life. Check out some of our life hacks below on ways to manage stress and anxiety and improve your overall well-being.
Develop a morning routine
What is the first thing that goes through your mind when your alarm goes off in the morning? Maybe you think about that project at work or picking up your kids from school on time. Waking up and facing your responsibilities right away can cause a large amount of stress. Incorporating a positive morning routine into your life is a wonderful way to prepare yourself for the day.
Start your day out with a nourishing breakfast to boost your metabolism and improve mental functioning. The morning time is also the best time to work out, providing a boost in energy and mood while also checking off an item on your to-do list. Incorporate mindfulness into your routine with meditation or journaling positive affirmations to get into a good mental headspace. Organizing these into a routine allows you to tackle the hardest tasks in the morning when you are most productive, reducing your overall stress.
Writing in a journal is a healthy way of processing your thoughts and feelings. Getting them down on paper allows you to analyze them more objectively. We often ruminate on our thoughts which only produces more stress and gets in the way of productivity. If you notice that your journal entries tend to lean towards negative events, use gratitude lists to focus on the positive things in your life.
Creative outlets such as playing an instrument, drawing or writing take your mind off of negative events in your life and replace them with constructive activities. Use puzzles to boost mental functioning or an adult coloring book to divert negative thinking. Creativity doesn’t have to be an artistic pursuit, it just needs to divert your attention from focusing on your problems and channel it into an activity that you enjoy doing.
Talk with a friend
We can get so focused on work and family matters that we forget about our friends and social networks completely. Simply picking up the phone and catching up with a friend will make you feel more connected. We often share the same struggles as our peers and talking about them with a friend can be the best medicine for working through the stress of everyday life. If you feel like your social network is lacking, find a local support group to help you cope with personal issues.
Mindfulness is often associated with meditation practice, but there are ways to be mindful without a sitting practice. When you sit down to eat a meal, practice mindfulness by being fully present with each bite. Notice how your food smells and looks on your plate. When you take a bite, chew slowly, recognizing the sensations you feel by the taste of your food. Notice the texture of the food as you chew. You can do this with any activity from brushing your teeth to riding your bike. Mindfulness keeps you present with what you are doing, keeping stressful and anxious thoughts from dominating your thinking.
Work on your sleep hygiene
Sleep is vital to mental functioning. During sleep, your brain processes your emotions and experiences while recharging cognitive functions such as focus and memory. Since it is so vital to mental functioning, not getting enough sleep will definitely create more stress in your life.
Improve your sleep hygiene by developing a night time routine that promotes rest. Avoid watching TV and using your mobile devices, only using your bed for sleep being intimate with your partner. Avoid caffeine after 3 o’clock and exercise during the day so you are more tired at bedtime. Any kind of distraction should be out of sight and out of mind about an hour before you head to bed so your mind has time to unwind and process the day. Don’t use nicotine before bed and cut down on your alcohol use for a restful night of sleep.
Take care of yourself!
The most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself. You are not being selfish if you need a day to take care of your mental health. Taking care of yourself allows you to function better and be the best person for your loved ones. Plan a vacation or watch your favorite comedy movie for a good laugh. Whatever you need to do to unwind, take at least one day a week to enjoy life and not take yourself too seriously.
Understand how your DNA can affect stress
The last point on our list of ways to manage stress and anxiety is about understanding how your DNA can affect stress. Some people are more prone to stress due to genetic factors. Genetics can affect how you regulate cortisol, a hormone that plays a primary role in influencing in how you respond to stress. If you are more sensitive to your hormones, adding nutrients such as magnesium and selenium can help you manage your stress.
HealthCodes DNA offers a 14 metric Wellness panel that provides an analysis of your hormone responsiveness so you can make appropriate lifestyle changes. DNA testing can help you plan your nutrition and fitness that can positively impact your mental health. Be sure to consult a professional for advice on medical and mental health issues.
Additionally, the MTHFR gene, which plays a crucial role in folate (also known as vitamin B-9) metabolism, may be influencing your response to stress factors. When you have a MTHFR gene mutation, you may experience additional stress response due to genetic predisposition. Research studies such as this 2016 study show the importance of genetic testing to determine if you need to supplement your diet with additional vitamins to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. At HealthCodes DNA, we offer a 16 metric Nutrition panel that reviews your folate (vitamin B-9) metabolism via MTHFR gene mutation. The MTHFR analysis determine if you will need an additional vitamin B-9 supplements to alleviate any potential genetic predisposition to stress that is impacting your mental health.