Fighting Chronic Stress and Anxiety

As a result of busy schedules, the rise of social media, and the 25/7 news coverage of tragedies and catastrophic events, anxiety symptoms and disorders are increasing in younger and older generations alike. Defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,” occasional anxiety is turning into chronic stress in many people, negatively impacting their quality of life. Some common symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Persistent worrying
  • Muscle tension, chest tightness, and neck pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive problems
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive sweating

While occasional anxiety and stress are not always a bad thing, and can even be helpful during a real-life crisis, chronic stress can negatively impact you in multiple ways, including:

  • Increasing the risk of heart attack
  • Weakens immune system
  • Contributes to aging
  • Contributes to weight gain and digestive disorders
  • Increases pain
  • Contributes to addiction

Much of chronic stress comes as a result of feeling out of control or helpless, but through stress management and relaxation techniques, you can learn to deal with stress more effectively. Some natural stress relievers include:

  1. Exercise and Yoga – exercise releases powerful endorphins that act as the body’s built-in painkillers and mood-lifters. In fact, research suggests that the negative effects of stress are exaggerated in people who are inactive. This is because regular exercise regulates various metabolic and psychological processes in the body and reinforces natural circadian rhythms, sleep cycles, and blood sugar levels. Yoga, specifically, shows similar benefits and is known to improve sleep and control anxiety.
  2. Meditation/Devotional Prayer – practiced at your own convenience, for as few as 10-15 minutes a day, meditation and prayer are proven ways to improve peace of mind and relieve stress.
  3. Acupuncture – acupuncture helps regulate the nervous system, having positive effects on blood pressure levels, circulation, hormones, which subsequently relieve stress.
  4. A Nutrient-Dense Diet – supplying your body with essential vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids, and antioxidants will help your brain handle stress better. Some foods that are ideal for natural stress relief are foods high in Vitamin B, Calcium, magnesium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. In order to keep the stress levels down avoid packaged foods, sugary foods, excessive alcohol and caffeine, and refined vegetable oils.
  5. Keeping a journal – reflecting on and tracking your emotions is an effective way of identifying stressors in your life and reducing them.
  6. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – a self-help technique that involves tapping near the endpoints of “energy meridians” located around the body, EFT can reduce physical tension promoting emotional and mental peace.