Anxiety and stress reduction techniques
Updated: 3 days ago
Managing anxiety and stress is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, and general well-being. While long-term strategies such as limiting alcohol and caffeine, reducing screen time, eating a healthy diet, therapy or counselling can all help manage stress, sometimes you need some techniques in your toolbox which can help ease anxiety as it occurs.
Here are some ideas:
Deep pressure: giving yourself a bear hug or self-massage can help modulate your nervous system when it goes into overdrive. This is the same way that weighed blankets, lap pads, body socks or beanbags help.
Aromatherapy: whether you indulge in essential oils or the real thing, smells can alter mood. Lavender is particularly associated with improved mood, and a reduction in stress and anxiety, but other scents like peppermint, lemon, rosemary and lemongrass may also help to minimise feelings of anxiety.
Like aromatherapy, herbs can also have a calming effect. Enjoy a cup of chamomile, jasmine or peppermint tea and feel some of your stress melt away.
Music and emotions are strongly connected, so to give your mood a lift and banish negativity, put on your favourite songs. Slow songs can relax you and helps to quieten thoughts, while dancing along to fast beats can help to release tension. Even better if you sing along.
Physical activity has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety. So if you’re feeling stressed, slip on your runners and go for a walk. Or get your sweat on by lifting weights or laying into a punching bag. Weights are super important to women’s physical health too as we age.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Either guided online or through an app, or done on your own, PMR involves slowly contracting then relaxing different muscle groups, while taking a deep breath in, then out. It has a host of proven benefits, most notably around controlling anxiety and stress when regularly practised. We’ve attached a link to a PMR script for you to use to get the most out of your relaxation session: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Progressive_Muscle_Relaxation.pdf
Grounding exercises: any exercise that make you aware of being in the here and now can be effective in reducing anxiety. Meditation and belly breathing are some of the better known, but there are many more which can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques One of our favourites is using the Five Senses. You can read about the exercise here: https://positive.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/The-Five-Senses-Worksheet.pdf
These are some science-backed strategies for managing stress and anxiety. Try a new one each day this week to see what works best for you.
Funded by the State Government of Victoria, Business Victoria, Mental Wellbeing of Businesses Grant Round 2.