When we are feeling anxious or depressed, it’s easy to start focusing on all the things that are going wrong in our lives. You might start feeling worried about your job, your health or your relationships.
As a result, our brains become overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings. This can lead to self-destructive behaviors like obsessing over what other people think of us, avoiding difficult situations, eating unhealthy foods and even drinking too much alcohol.
The good news is that there are many simple ways to take control of your mind and body when you’re under stress. Here are some strategies that can help:
Take a deep breath. Deep breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious or stressed out. Breathe in slowly through your nose for about five seconds, then exhale through your mouth for five seconds. Repeat this exercise at least 10 times in a row to help clear your mind and lower your heart rate.
Listen to music. Music has been shown to have powerful effects on mood, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Listening to upbeat music can be especially helpful when you’re feeling down because it helps you focus on positive thoughts instead of negative ones (like worry or fear).
Exercise. You don’t need to go out and jog 5 miles every day (that is if you’re even allowed to leave your house), but try doing a little exercise every day. It could be as simple as yoga or stretching, or you can go all out with a quick cardio session or some light weight training.
Just Breathe. Meditation doesn’t require a lot of time, or a particular mindset or equipment. You don’t need to chant any mantras or envision anything in particular (though you can). All you need is 10 minutes and your breath. There are numerous apps that can guide you through meditation and relaxation exercises
Identify your stressors. Stress can be caused by specific situations and circumstances, or it can be triggered by emotions such as anger and frustration. When you’re feeling stressed, stop and think about what might be causing your feelings.