As a force that calls for action and keeps us going, stress is not necessarily a bad thing. However, persistent stress doesn’t allow your body to recover after the “flight-or-fight” response and it can seriously damage your health. So, yes, stress is important but left uncontrolled it can deeply hurt us and, paradoxically, obstruct our ability to act.
One of the most important things in coping with stress and anxiety is to understand and acknowledge your emotions – try to find meaning in anxiety and to understand what is your anxiety trying to tell you about yourself and your relations to other people and the world. You can understand your anxiety if you stay focused on the present and mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool to achieve this.
Also, keep in mind that whatever you feed it will grow. If you are focusing your attention on anxious ruminations, negative self-thoughts, and fears, they will take over.
Four Methods for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
According to Dr. Shelly Harrell, there are four basic strategies for coping with stress and anxiety.
The first one is called FACTS – Foundation Attention Centering Techniques. The FACTS include strategies to shift attention from anxiety and include meditation, breathing techniques, and visualization.
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful method for reducing stress because it can improve your mood, boost your confidence and enhance your memory and focus. In addition, mindfulness exercise can help you become more aware of your self-critical thoughts that often generate stress. Furthermore, research shows that mindfulness exercise can actually reduce activity in the amygdala, therefore, decreasing the background level of stress.
Also, according to the law of attraction, our thoughts act as a magnet that attracts events and outcomes. And one of the most powerful ways to attract desired outcomes is visualization or mental rehearsal.
2. Expressive-Creative Strategies
Expressive-creative strategies such as expressive arts and physical movements such as dance or exercise are powerful methods for reducing stress. Research shows that creative outlets and exercise can have a very positive effect on our well-being. These activities can lessen anxiety and depression symptomatology, boost your mood, stress resilience, and confidence and improve your sleep patterns.
3. Reflection-Exploration Strategies
One of such strategies is keeping a stress journal or a diary. This is a great way to keep track of situations that trigger your stress response. Make sure to keep the journal daily and note the time, date, and place of stressful episodes. This will help you to notice what causes your stress and to understand how effective your behavior is in stressful situations, so you can build up better stress-coping mechanisms.
4. Healthy Lifestyle
This set of strategies for managing stress and anxiety includes self-care and means turning your attention to healthy habits such as healthy diet, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, healthy pleasures, and healthy relationships. A healthy lifestyle is a vital part of stress management that can help you manage anxiety in a positive and inspiring way.
Each of these strategies is helpful because they move our attention from fear and apprehension to what is important and truly meaningful in our lives.