I think it’s safe to say that there is no escaping stress in our lives and finding ways to deal with stress effectively is so important. Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t seem to be something that a lot of people want to talk about, even though so many people are dealing with it. It wasn’t until this week when news broke about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain that I thought to myself I need to share more about my own struggles. If its something we all deal with, why are so many suffering in silence?
My Own Struggle with Anxiety:
Growing up, I dealt with anxiety but never knew that was what it was. I thought it was normal, so I just dealt with it for most of my life as is. I have always been rather shy growing up, so I was always a bit uncomfortable in large group settings. I would stress about going to party’s in high school because of it and when I found alcohol, it helped me relax and I used it as a crutch to open up and be more outgoing. Over time, I did learn how to have my own voice and open up more with people sans alcohol, but I would be lying if I said alcohol didn’t help a lot. The shyness was really a result of a lack of self confidence and anxiety about what I thought people would think about me. It was exhausting to always be so concerned with what people thought.
It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I finally figured out that what I was dealing with was indeed anxiety. I heard about it being talked about somewhere and thought to myself, “I do those things…” and it finally clicked. For me, my anxiety would peek at night when I was going to sleep. I would be lying down and going over everything I said or did that day and over analyze it to death. I would think about comments that someone made at work and go over it again and again, trying to see if I should have done or said something different. It was exhausting. Many nights, I lost sleep because of it. I thought this was completely normal, but it’s not.
I know that my anxiety is not nearly as debilitating as others and I think that is also why I didn’t want to share it either. I worried that my anxiety wasn’t serious enough. So I worried about my worrying, lol. I had to find ways to deal with stress and anxiety effectively though because it was no way to live. So when stress and my own fears and anxiety start creeping in, I’ve developed several strategies to deal with them.
Ways to Deal with Stress and Anxiety, Naturally:
There are two main things to consider when it comes to finding ways to deal with stress and anxiety. The first is that you need to have lifestyle changes in place to help you deal with stress and anxiety before they get out of hand. The second point is to use specific products to deal with stress when it manages to creep up on you.
Lifestyle Changes to Help with Stress and Anxiety:
This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and one of my favourite ways to deal with stress. I have been meditating for about 4-5 months now and the change that I feel when I do this continuously (meaning daily) is life changing. It isn’t easy and not every time I do it is it perfect by any means, but the difference that I feel when I don’t do it makes me want to keep doing it.
Here is how it works for me:
- Slowing down the mind and tuning in has made me more comfortable with myself, it has helped me see things about myself that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
- It helps calm my mind down when it wants to go 100 miles an hour.
- I prefer doing guided meditations for now, but in the future who knows, maybe I will get into doing it on my own.
- For now, I use apps like Headspace, Simple Habit and Insight. I have also been going to some meditation classes in Toronto as well and have really enjoyed doing guided meditations in-person as well.
Simply getting out your thoughts and feelings on paper is very therapeutic for me. I will admit, writing has always been something I loved (hence blogging) but it can be difficult if you aren’t used to it. How often you should journal is entirely dependant on you, but if you are just starting out, I would try to do it as often as possible. There is also a huge emotional component associated with journalling and it has been shown that journaling 15–20 minutes on 3–5 occasions was enough to help the participants deal with traumatic, stressful, or otherwise emotional events.
Here are some tips for journaling:
- Give yourself a timer for 5-10 minutes and just write, whatever comes to you. It may not be super introspective at first, but it will get there in time.
- If you want to try a shorter version, try bullet journaling.
- Just start, see what comes up and don’t judge whatever that may be.
- Write truthfully (if you can’t be honest with yourself, what’s the point?)
- Write in a way that is natural to you.
- Pick up a pretty notebook or journal that makes you want to write. I love my five minute journal for daily writing.
Cleansing the energy around you can be very therapeutic. If you aren’t into energy work and you think crystals or sage/palo santo are too woo-woo for you, just try it. Even if you don’t do anything with it, but simply light the sage or palo santo, you can feel the benefits. Its all about creating the routine and has quickly become one of my favourite ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Here is how I use these modalities:
- Personally, I like starting my mornings with a meditation and lighting some palo santo. Every now and then, I will use sage to cleanse my whole condo.
- If you think about it from a practical point of view, there is energy everywhere (we are all energy) and sometimes that can become stagnant and build up. Clearing old energy (that may not even be from you) can really help calm your own energy.
- Sometimes, just lighting incense or diffusing essential oils works as well for helping me deal with stress and anxiety.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, a couple of deep breaths can really help. Taking really deep belly breaths in and then exhaling out of your mouth can do wonders, I often find this technique very useful when I find myself getting overwhelmed.
Check out this post all about my nightly routine! Overall, it is important to develop your own routine that will help you deal with stress and anxiety. The tips I share work for me, but find what works for you.
Caffeine can actually be the cause of your anxiety and can plague your adrenals (your stress glands) negatively. If you haven’t already tried, make the switch to some caffeine-free lattes or try matcha. If you notice yourself dependant on coffee throughout the day or to get started in the morning, it may be time to make the switch at least for a little while.
Challenge My Thoughts:
When I find myself deep in the throws of self doubt and limiting beliefs, I simply try my best to take a step back and challenge them. I ask myself “is this really true?” and most of the time it is not even close to the truth. This is one of the hardest things to do sometimes, because we all believe that little voice in our heads that wants to tell us we can’t do something, but trust me, you can. Next time you find yourself having some doubts, challenge the shit out of them.
If you want some great book recommendations, check out any of these:
- Brene Brown- Daring Greatly,
- Jen Sincero- You are a Badass,
- Mark Manson- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- Elizabeth Gilbert- Big Magic.
Expressing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to deal with stress and anxiety. It is impossible to be in a state of fear while expressing gratitude. Simply write down a few things that you have right now to be grateful for and see how that changes your body, your energy and your mind. Just another reason why I love my five minute journal as it forces you to write down three things you are grateful for each day.
Talk to someone:
If you are really dealing with something, sometimes it’s better to talk to someone. In an age where we are constantly disconnected from each other (even with social media), it is so important to foster an environment of community. Whether it is a friend, colleague, family member or a therapist, find someone you can talk to. If you have trouble expressing yourself verbally, write an email out to that person and get the feelings out that way.
Moving my body in some way each day has been so helpful in getting me into a different state of mind when I am feeling stressed or anxious. It can be as simple as going for a walk, doing yoga or Pilates or a HIIT/spin class. Whatever it is that you need at the time. I will say that most of the time, if we are dealing with stress and anxiety, lighter forms of movement like yoga and Pilates can be far more beneficial than a high intensity exercise.
Which Products Can Help You Deal with Stress:
I personally love these mushroom blends! Sometimes making a warm elixir is all that I need to wind down. The benefits of mushrooms are well documented and can help your body adapt to stress. You can read all about mushrooms and Four Sigmatic here and here.
One of the ways to deal with stress is by simply diffusing a blend of essential oils. You can read all about essential oils and how I use them over here.
I love taking magnesium before bed as it helps to calm me down, get me ready for bed and puts my racing mind at ease. Recently, I have been combining magnesium (I like Natural Calm) with Organika’s Enhanced Relax Collagen. I simply boil water, add that hot water to the magnesium and 1 tbsp of the collagen with magnesium and it has really been helping me get to sleep.
I have been loving this product lately! These supplements are made using only organic and natural ingredients and are whole-foods based as well. So this product in particular contains only lemon balm and goji berries. Goji berries are among one of the highest sources of melatonin among plants and lemon balm (one of my fave plants) is known for its sedative properties.
I also like having a relaxing cup of herbal tea before bed as well. Some of the brands I like include Affect Health- Nightly Zen which contains valerian, passionflower, oat straw and skullcap, all of which are beneficial in promoting sleep and soothing anxious thoughts. I also like this tea blend from Lake & Oak called liquid calm which contains skullcap, chamomile, spearmint and rose petals.
This is something that is fairly new and although I have only tried it a few times, it seems promising. I haven’t been able to source a good quality or even a legal one here in Canada yet as many of the products sold here are black market. I can’t recommend a good quality one as of yet, but it is definitely something I am actively looking into.
And there you have it! Ten ways to deal with stress and anxiety, naturally. I hope that you found something here helpful.
I’d love to hear from you as well, so please feel free to share some of your own unique ways to deal with stress.