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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

stress relief activities
9 Stress Relief Activities to Help With Anxiety

40 million Americans suffer from anxiety.

In fact, it is the most common mental illness in the US. If you suffer from anxiety, you know how all-consuming this illness can be. Sometimes, there simply doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

In this article, we’ll explore some stress relief activities to help you push back against your anxiety.

To see results, try to build these tips into your daily routine. This can help you out when your feelings of anxiety are mounting.

1. Walk a Dog

84% of people with pets believe their furry friends help to reduce their feelings of anxiety.

When stroking a dog, your brain releases happy hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin.

Better yet, your dog requires a fixed routine or schedule. This can be hugely beneficial when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.

By taking your dog for a walk, you’re getting out of the house, focusing on their needs, and getting some exercise too.

2. Take Up Yoga

Yoga brings a sense of calm to both the mind and the body. It’s also something which you can do at home.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of YouTube videos and apps to guide you through a workout. Do you want a short, stretching yoga session, or would you like something more intense?

By integrating yoga into your everyday life, you’ll see huge benefits to your mental and physical health such as improved flexibility and strength.

Yoga has also been shown to reduce stress while sharpening our ability to concentrate and pay attention to our surroundings.

3. Laugh with Friends

If you have someone in your life who never fails to make you laugh, give them a call. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine, essentially giving you a natural high.

If you’re feeling anxious, seeing friends may be the last thing you want to do. But, they can help you.

Invite a close friend or family member for a coffee. Give yourself a few moments to explain to them how you’re feeling and then focus on the positives.

Can’t find anything to laugh about? Why not go to the cinema to watch a funny movie? Or, find a local comedy club and go to a gig?

4. Practice Mindfulness

It’s a good idea to get into a routine of practicing mindfulness. You may feel discouraged if you only try to be mindful when you’re anxious.

But, if you spend just five minutes each day focusing on your breathing, or on the sounds around you, you can build up this skill.

When you’ve worked at being mindful for some time, this can be the best way to calm down your thoughts when an anxiety attack strikes.

However, it does require some hard work and commitment. If you’re struggling to get started, why not download an app?

5. Learn Deep Breathing Techniques

This activity is similar to mindfulness but can be done anywhere and at any time.

When a panic attack strikes, our natural response is to try and breathe in as deeply as possible. But, this can do more damage than good!

Learning a breathing technique that works for you is the best way to calm yourself down. Then, pair this up with your mindfulness practice.

There are hundreds of breathing techniques to try. Consider trying the popular 4-7-8 technique first.

To do this, breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and breathe out for eight seconds. Do a few cycles of this. How does it feel?

6. Keep a Journal

In order to figure out how you’re truly feeling and why you’re feeling this way, there’s nothing better than putting pen to paper.

Keeping a journal has been shown to help relieve stress, inspire creativity, and provides a place for self-discovery.

Try keeping a journal next to your bed and write down how you’re feeling when you first wake up or before you go to sleep.

7. Stop Drinking Coffee and Alcohol

If you’re experiencing anxiety, avoid caffeine. This stimulant can make you feel worse as it will increase your heart rate and trigger a flight or fight response.

In fact, when you’re feeling particularly anxious, drinking coffee can trigger a panic attack. For now, give up your morning latte and trade it for a peppermint tea.

As well as coffee, alcohol has also been proven to make anxiety worse. Although you may think a whiskey will calm your nerves, it will actually change the level of neurotransmitters in your brain.

As a result, you may feel a lot worse when the alcohol wears off and you may find yourself depending on it whenever you feel anxious.

8. Improve Sleep with Aromatherapy

Anxiety can lead to insomnia, which can lead to more anxiety. To get out of this terrible spiral, build a nighttime routine.

This could involve drinking a warm, comforting drink, having a warm bath, and listening to a soothing podcast.

As well as this, why not incorporate aromatherapy into your evening routine? Lavender can help calm your mind and help you drift off to sleep.

In fact, it has been used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia for hundreds of years. Consider buying a room spray or simply picking up a lavender plant.

9. Seek Professional Help

If you’ve tried out these stress relief activities and find that they’re simply not helping you, it’s time to seek professional help.

Unfortunately, even though the stigma surrounding mental health is reducing, a whopping 56% of Americans don’t get the help they need.

No matter your anxiety disorder, there is a treatment that will help you see the light once more. All you need to do is reach out and ask for help.

Build Stress Relief Activities into Your Daily Routine

Stress relief activities work best when they’re practiced and built into a daily routine.

If you only practice yoga once every three months, you won’t see the benefits. But, if you go to a class or do it in your home every other day, you may be amazed by the improvement you’ll see in a short amount of time.

Do you need help in overcoming an anxiety disorder? Request an appointment with us.

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