6 Tips to Manage Stress and Anxiety
I just got back from a wonderful two week vacation, which is probably the longest amount of time off I’ve had in my life! But what isn’t wonderful is the combination of jetlag, going straight back into a busy schedule, an overflowing email inbox, and holiday obligations starting to pile up. Which for me, was the perfect recipe for acute stress and anxiety, and felt especially pronounced after laying on the beach on remote islands for a couple weeks. So the message was loud and clear to start employing all of the advice I give my patients on how to manage their stress and anxiety. Below are the 6 tips I suggest, and personally use the most!
Meditation. I’m sure you’ve heard us (and everyone else) preach this a million times already, but that’s because it really does work. I upped my occasional 10 minute morning meditation to 20 minutes and then periodically throughout the day when I needed it (or at night when I would wake up at 3am wide awake and unable to fall back asleep). Sitting silently, focusing on breathing, or using a handy meditation app like headspace, calm, or insight timer are great ways to start lowering cortisol levels.
Breathing techniques. In moments of acute stress throughout the day or when I can’t spare a moment to sit down and meditate, I’ll use the 4-4-8 breathing technique (inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale for a count of 8). Breathing techniques are a wonderful way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of fight or flight mode. Plus they are quick and discreet enough to do anytime, anywhere.
Sleep. Sometimes our busiest weeks are the nights we need to make sure we’re getting those 8 hours of sleep the most. Adequate quality and quantity of sleep is important for proper brain function, hormonal production, and nervous system balance. Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Acupuncture can help with that, too.
Exercise. Definitely one of my least favorite things of all time, but incredibly helpful for producing endorphins, the body natural feel-good neurotransmitters, improving sleep, balancing blood sugar (very important for healthy cortisol levels!), and stabilizes mood. Even some gentle stretching, yoga, or a 20 minute walk can have benefits.
Cut yourself some slack. As a type-A person who has a hard time saying “no”, I often find I judge myself too harshly when I’m feeling stressed or anxious. For me, feeling overwhelmed is the trigger to tell myself it’s time to be more selfish with my time, energy, and resources. I’ll scale back my to do list to only the essentials, worry about what is only required of me in the moment, stop judging myself for whatever I am feeling, and do whatever it is that will bring me peace (a walk to the park, a good book, a phone call with a friend, or netflix and a cup of tea).
Get Acupuncture. Acupuncture can be a wonderful tool for activating the parasympathetic aspect of the autonomic nervous system which in turn subdues blood pressure, normalizes heart rate, relaxes muscle, increases blood flow and reduces cortisol levels.
Struggling with stress or anxiety? Give Acubalance a call at 604-678-8600 to book a free 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your personalized options for stress and anxiety management. Acubalance offers acupuncture for anxiety and stress in Vancouver, BC.
Allison, R.Ac, R.TCM.P