5 of the best ways to relieve stress, depression and anxiety – words Alan Turnbull
Whether it’s at work, home, or elsewhere, we all feel frazzled, panicked or jaded at some point in our lives.
Approximately 1 in 6 adults experience a common mental health problem, such as depression, stress or anxiety, in any given week, according to a 2016 study by the NHS. The same report also found that 5.9% of the people surveyed were suffering from generalised anxiety disorder, while 3.3% were living with depression.
With these conditions being so common in our busy lives, it’s important that you know how you can help to prevent them from affecting you and how to deal with them if they do. Thankfully, there are some fairly straightforward ways to relieve stress, depression and anxiety, all of which don’t require huge lifestyle changes to work. Below is our round-up of the five best stress and anxiety busting techniques you can try. Read on to find out more.
Improve your diet and habits
When you are feeling down or you’ve got something weighing on your mind, it’s easy to turn to your vices to provide some temporary relief. Comfort food, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking are all things that can give a momentary break from your troubles, but they are actually crutches that end up doing more harm than good.
You should avoid, or at least reduce, any dependence you have on these habits. Instead of going for alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, you should try to increase the amount of water that you drink each day to keep you well-hydrated. Herbal teas and cordials are good substitutes if you are looking to add more flavour to your beverages.
Making time to prepare meals with nutritious ingredients is also very important, as the refined sugars in both manufactured and savoury foods can lead to energy crashes that cause tiredness and irritability. The BBC’s Good Food has a great how-to guide for improving your diet, full of great tips and recipes that can help you avoid stress and anxiety.
Get some exercise
Though at times it may feel like you just want to curl up into a ball, getting up and out there for some exercise can be one of the best ways to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. According to the Help Guide, physical activity is one of the best ways of unwinding after a long day, and it can be just as effective as antidepressant medication thanks to the endorphins it releases in your body.
Getting some exercise doesn’t mean that you need to start hitting the gym every day, either. Stress relief activities needn’t cost the earth. You can get the ball rolling by going for a walk every day, which is a great, low impact activity to get you moving. You could even join the many people who’ve turned their strolls into a challenge by aiming for the recommended daily target of 10,000 steps. Powerhouse Fitness has a wide range of fitness trackers to choose from that will help you monitor every step. You can also get free delivery on orders over £100.
Aim for a better night’s sleep
Sleep is a vital part of your routine, and not getting enough is sure to leave you dreading the day ahead. It’s also one of the most natural ways to reduce stress. To get more sleep, you need to get into the habit of unwinding before you go to bed. Make your room a distraction-free zone, where use of TVs, phones, and tablets are minimised, as the exposure to blue light from their screens can keep your brain from entering a sleep-ready state. Instead, try taking a relaxing bath or reading to calm your mind. You should also avoid eating, or drinking any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks in the hours before sleep, as they can also affect the quality of rest.
Talk through your fears
When you have a problem, going over it again and again in your mind can be unhelpful as it can prolong the time you spend thinking about it. Try to talk to someone you trust about what’s bothering you — it’s amazing what revelations can occur when an issue is spoken about instead of being bottled up inside. Plus, that someone might just have some great advice for you too.
If you can’t discuss it with a friend or family member, you can get in touch with the Samaritans or go to your local GP who will be able to refer you for counselling or therapy.
Practice breathing techniques
Stress and anxiety can often leave you feeling unsettled. The first step is being brave enough to confront situations that you aren’t comfortable with, but once you’re there, you can practice some self-soothing breathing techniques to calm down and get through it.
An increased heart rate is one of the natural responses to a fear-inducing event, but you can learn to reduce this by mastering diaphragmatic breathing — an exercise designed to lower your pulse rate. The Foundation for Positive Mental Health has a great tutorial about mastering this technique, complete with videos, which will help you learn how to do it.
So, there you have it: five easy ways to prevent and combat stress, anxiety, and depression. You’ll find these methods very simple to incorporate into your day, so give them a try.
5 of the best ways to relieve stress, depression and how to reduce anxiety – words Alan Turnbull