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  • Anya Szumowski

Managing Anxiety and Stress: Powerful Strategies for a Happier, Healthier Mind

Stress and anxiety can make us feel like we're caught in a whirlwind, constantly battling against the currents of life. Today, I want to share some effective strategies that can help us navigate these overwhelming moments so we can find calm amidst the chaos. And in the end, you'll be equipped with a beginning toolkit that empowers you to regain control and bring more peace into your daily existence.

So grab a seat, get comfy, and let's explore these five strategies for managing anxiety and stress together. Consider me your trusted guide, accompanying you on this journey toward a calmer, happier you...

1. Take a Breath:

I know I know, it seems a little... too simple. But when stress starts to overwhelm you, it's essential to give yourself a moment of respite. In the midst of the chaos, we can pause, and focus on something that's always with us—the breath. It's incredible how such a simple act can profoundly impact our well-being.

Close your eyes for a moment, if you can, and take a deep breath in through your nose. Feel the air filling your lungs, expanding your chest. Hold it for a second, then exhale slowly through your mouth, releasing any tension or worries weighing you down. Repeat this process a few times, allowing each breath to become a gentle anchor, grounding you in the present moment.

Mindful breaths hold a remarkable ability to restore balance and tranquility to our minds and bodies. They tap into the body's natural relaxation response, activating the parasympathetic nervous system that counteracts the fight-or-flight response triggered by stress. So, whenever you feel stress creeping in, return to your breath. It's a readily accessible tool that you carry within you at all times.

2. Move Your Body:

We often hear about the benefits of physical activity on our physical health, but we shouldn't underestimate the value it provides to our mental health too. Moving our bodies triggers a release of endorphins in the brain, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals. These endorphins play a crucial role in reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.

Moreover, have you ever noticed the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety and stress? Muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue etc.? Movement provides an outlet for the energy that anxiety often generates. By engaging in physical activity, we can effectively release tension and pent-up emotions, offering relief from those physical symptoms.

And no, you do not need to go to the gym for hours and hours on end to reap the benefits of movement for your mental health. In fact, if that's something you find miserable, I'd encourage you to avoid doing so. Instead, take time to listen to your body. Chances are, it wants to move in ways that are enjoyable to you, whatever that may look like; going for a walk, working in the garden, taking a new yoga class, playing with your kids, etc.

3. Challenge Negative Thoughts:

Our minds have a tendency to magnify negative thoughts, often leading us down a spiral of self-doubt and negativity. But here's the thing, we have the power to challenge and reframe those thoughts. And in time, completely transforming the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.

When a negative thought arises, pause for a moment and ask yourself: Is this thought based on facts or merely assumptions? We often find ourselves caught up in a cycle of distorted thinking, assuming the worst-case scenarios without any solid evidence to support it. Once we've identified these negative thoughts, we get to rewrite them by creating more accurate and serving narratives. Positive affirmations, if you will. Such as...

  1. I am worthy of love, respect, and happiness.

  2. I am deserving of success and all the good things life has to offer.

  3. I am strong, resilient, and capable of handling whatever comes my way.

  4. I am enough just as I am, and I embrace my flaws and imperfections.

  5. I am surrounded by love and support from those who care about me.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if you're thinking "okay...but I don't believe these things." And that's okay! Challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with positive affirmations takes practice and consistency. Be patient and gentle with yourself throughout this process, as it may take time to shift deeply ingrained thought patterns.

4. Get Quality Sleep:

One crucial yet often overlooked aspect of caring for our mental health is the quality of our sleep. While we rest, our brain processes emotions and consolidates memories, empowering us to navigate challenges and regulate our moods effectively. On the other hand, sleep deprivation not only leaves us feeling groggy and exhausted but can also worsen anxiety and stress.

To unlock the potential of restful slumber, it's important to establish a soothing bedtime routine that prepares both the mind and body for a night of rejuvenating sleep. Consider incorporating activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or engaging in gentle stretches. This may also include taking a look at those habits and behaviors that hinder relaxation, such as nighttime phone use. We've all been there, endlessly scrolling through social media late into the night, inadvertently activating our brains and compromising our sleep.

Breaking the cycle of excessive phone use before bed can be challenging, but it is undoubtedly worth the effort. The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycles, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Remember, engaging in calming activities signals to your body that it's time to unwind and prepare for rest, and your phone is likely not one of them.

5. Reach Out for Support:

If there is anything I wish for you to know, it is that you are never ever alone. Though it sure is easy to feel like you are, especially in the face of anxiety and stress. And that's why reaching out for support can make a world of difference.

Sharing your worries and concerns with someone you trust creates a space for vulnerability and authenticity. It lifts the weight of those emotions from your shoulders so that they aren't so overwhelming and heavy. And I can say with a great deal of certainty, that those people who love and care about you, will gladly help you carry that weight.

Don't hesitate to consider professional help too. A therapist can offer understanding, empathy, and a different perspective, helping you reframe your thoughts and approach challenges from new angles. Together, with the support of your network, you can navigate the challenges of stress and anxiety, finding strength and solace in the power of connection and support.

Remember, managing stress and anxiety is an ongoing journey. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Implement these strategies, adapt them to your unique needs, and always remember that you have the strength within you to overcome any challenge that comes your way.

Take care of yourself, and know that I'm here cheering you on every step of the way!

Managing Anxiety and Stress • Therapy for Anxiety • Anxiety Coping Skills • Stress Relief


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