Anxiety, stress, worry, or feeling nervous is usually normal, but can become a problem if it becomes constant and interferes with your sleep, appetite, or your school. For me, anxiety used to be an uncontrollable cycle of worry and stress over balancing school and work, living up to my parents' expectations, and especially learning how to drive. These are the tips that finally helped me stop my endless merry-go-round of stress.
1. Meditate with Calm
The key to successfully meditating is being able to relax your mind through focusing on your breathing. I personally love to use this app called "Calm" that has a feature for guiding your breath in, holding it, and breathing out. This is a great app to use if you're stressing over a test and just need a few minutes to clear your head. There's also a pro version where you can listen to guided meditations and music.
2. Can't Sleep? Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of slowing down and really trying to live in the moment. Mindfulness is a great remedy for when you're judging yourself for something that happened 10 years ago or if you can't stop worrying about a future presentation or exam. There have also been several studies done that show the benefits of mindfulness on stress, pain, depression, and anxiety. My favorite mindfulness technique is called "body scanning" where you start from your toes and focus on tensing, then relaxing each body part as you go up to your head. It sounds silly but this can really be a great trick if you can't sleep.
3. Hit the Gym
Exercise is great for more than just your muscles. Clinical studies have shown that exercise at least 5 times a week for more than 30 minutes significantly reduces the risk of depression and anxiety. Even just going on a jog to the park or running on the beach can get your heart rate up and even increase your serotonin levels, the brain chemical responsible for making you feel happy. Other studies show that physical exercise releases endorphins, which act like natural painkillers.
4. Ditch Caffeine
As much as I love Starbucks, caffeine has been found to increase your anxiety levels and even make it harder for you to manage your stress. Caffeine can even trigger panic attacks for some people. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee, scientists say you should eat an apple every morning to get the same benefits you would from the coffee, but I haven't tested that theory out.
5. Let it Out
Sometimes what I really needed most was just someone to talk to. It's not a sign of weakness to be feeling overly stressed or anxious, and it's something that pretty much every human deals with at some point. Bottling up your stress might work for now, but eventually the pressure will become too much and overwhelm you. The best thing to do is talk to a friend or even try therapy. Also, journaling your stresses, worries, and fears can definitely help reduce your anxiety and help you keep things in perspective.