Stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of our day to day life including current events that we have absolutely no control over. Sometimes stressors feel like they’re building on top of one another to a point where we feel helpless.
For teens with high anxiety, it’s important to look into strategies that can help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term, like skills therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress with steps you can take in the moment when anxiety starts to take hold.
- Stand Up Straight: For immediate relief from anxiety, stand up, pull your shoulders back, plant your feet evenly and widely apart, and open your chest. Then breathe deeply. This posture, combined with deep breathing, helps your body remember that it’s not in danger right now, and that it is in control (not helpless).
- Watch a Funny Video: Watching a funny YouTube video, for example, will help you stop feeling anxious fast. Why? Because you can’t laugh and stay anxious at the same time, physiologically. Your body relaxes after laughing in a way that gets rid of anxiety. Plus, according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter brings in oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your heart and lungs, and spikes your endorphins.
- Stay Away from Sugar: It may be tempting to reach for something sweet when you’re stressed, but that cake pop can do more harm than good, as research shows that eating too much sugar can worsen anxious feelings. Instead of reaching into the candy bowl, drink a glass of water or eat some protein.
- Go Outside for A Walk: Exercise is a long-proven way to lower anxiety. In addition to boosting your level of feel-good neurotransmitters, a brisk walk clears your mind and gets you breathing more deeply again–and anxiety is intimately linked to shallow breathing.
- Listen to Relaxing Music: Turn down the base and update your Spotify playlist with soft tunes. Studies have shown that listening to relaxing music can actually calm your nervous system.
- Do Something Productive: Checking something off your to-do list can help alleviate that one more thing you have to do. Making your bed, clearing off your desk, organizing your closet, for instance, can make you feel productive and relieve anxiety.
- Chew Gum: According to several studies, chewing gum can help you relax and promote wellbeing. One possible explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.
- Practice Being Mindful: Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking. Some studies have suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Cuddle With Your Pet: Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress. Fun fact, humans aren’t the only animals who cuddle for stress relief. Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed.
- Light A Candle: Ever sit in front of a fireplace and instantly feel relaxed? Well lighting a candle can offer the same sensation. Light a candle or use essential oils to benefit from calming scents like lavender, orange, or sandalwood.
- Write It Out Of Your Mind: Write it down. Recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.