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21 Ways to Manage Stress & Anxiety

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I have been 'fortunate' in my life to have faced a ton of stressful situations.  Most might not consider this a good thing, but it has pushed me to find different ways to handle that stress and grow as a person.  Stress and anxiety are  hard on a person and their family; ignoring these issues can become a slippery slope if not addressed.  This is why it us of utmost importance that you find an appropriate way to deal with these pressures.  Combining my own experience with learning how others have dealt with anxiety as well as writing a book on the subject has led to this list of 21 things to do to help manage stress and anxiety. 

Disclaimer: What works for me, may not work for you.  As a result you may disagree with some of my points, nonetheless these are all things that people use to cope.  I hope one or two work for you or someone you know.

Don't Own Other People's Crap

Own Your Own Crap
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One technique I learned years ago that works great is determining whether my stress is really mine or me projecting another person’s crap upon myself.  Essentially, it is looking at a situation and determining which crap is theirs and which is mine.  If I find myself stressing about their problems, I simply name it.  I name it random things too so I can find the humor in it.  We all have enough of our own things to stress over, we surely do not need to take on someone else’s.  People love to dump their problems on other people, so we have to work hard at owning our own space.

Run Like a Thief

Run Like a Thief
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Put on some runners, go outside or find yourself a treadmill and just run.  Run.  Run.  Run.  Run like you stole something and don’t stop until you are exhausted.  The passion from the stress and anxiety will come out and you hopefully you will exhaust it's energy.  Be sure to stop before your heart does though!

Clear The Mind

Open Box
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Part of relaxation is the ability to clear the mind of your thoughts so you can focus.  One technique I use is taking all my guilt of yesterday and worries of tomorrow and stuff them into a box.  I acknowledge they exist when I think of them, but then I stuff them in a box and then… I blow up the box (Not literally - just in my head).  I know it doesn’t make them go away, but it does give me a few hours of reprieve and sometimes that’s all that is needed.

Wipe Your Nose

Blow Nose
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Sometimes I tell my kids to simply "Wipe Their Nose" when they have to do something they don't want to do.  It’s my way of saying, ‘I know the situation sucks, but we don’t have a choice, so let’s accept that it sucks and get on with it.’  Sometimes ignoring a problem will only make it fester and become a real big problem that we later cannot deal with.  So wipe your nose, accept it and get at it.

Be in the Moment

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Being in the moment is by far the best way to handle stress and anxiety.  Being in the moment allows you to focus only on the here and now.  If you don’t know how to just BE, a good activity is to just close your eyes for 15 seconds and count the number of sounds you hear.  Doing this with your kids is totally great; not only does it give you a moment to BE but also gives you 15 seconds of peace and quiet.  A double win.

Cook a Meal

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A fantastic way to take your mind off your thoughts is to cook a meal.  This doesn't mean a snappy meal like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, I mean an actual recipe.  The goal here is to make something complex. I want you to pick something that actually requires measuring spoons, knives and other appliances in a kitchen!  Following a recipe makes you stay in the moment as you focus on the details of the recipe - you don't want to miss an ingredient!  There is another benefit too: you ‘create’.  Creation is so awesome for the soul.  Follow the recipe, share the meal, and release some stress.  Perfect combo.

Hook Yourself In

Hook Yourself In
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In meditation one of the first things taught is how to ground yourself.  I can’t say enough about how critical being grounded was to getting through my tough situations.  Life has a tendency to spin around us so much that we feel we are out of control.  Imagine a cord connected from the base of your spine to the ground.  Imagine you are connected to the earth and can’t get caught up by the swirling motion.  If you aren't already equiped with the tools to begin meditating, I highly recommend investing some time, your mental health will thank you.

Look Back and Laugh

Look back and laugh
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As people, we are exceptionally good at looking back and regretting.  It takes effort to look back and laugh.  We all have moments in our past, even if they are three decades past, that made us smile or that made us proud.  Finding those memories deep in our minds helps us realize that we have had good things happen and also that we have made it through tough times.

Take a Nap

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Middle of the day, shut down everything you are doing and take a nap.  Find a comfortable spot on the couch, right in the middle of the chaos.  It will prove to yourself that the ‘things’ don’t control you and that you can will your body to rest as if you have nothing to do today.  Power napping does wonders for the mind.  I suggest not doing this at work though unless it is an already approved practice. [1]

Use Your Imagination

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Your imagination is an awesome tool, however it so often gets misused.  One major misuse of imagination is worrying.  Try to use your imagination to focus on good outcomes.  It happens all the time, where I start thinking of the worst possible outcome and soon I am worrying.  So I try to think of the best possible outcome and use my imagination to paint a picture of how awesome that will be.  More times than not, reality ends up somewhere in between.

Hike a New Path

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One of the best ways to get your mind off your troubles is to get lost.  So next time you go for a walk or a hike or a bike ride, try a new path.  Turn left instead of the regular right and see where you end up.   New paths open up your eyes and your other senses to experience the new surroundings.  This helps you realize that your path is not always pre-set and you can change directions.  Be sure to carry your GPS though just in case you get really lost.

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings
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Taking the time to count your blessings is a great use of energy.  Sometimes we feel that nothing goes right for us or that we always fail.  If you take the time to literally count the good things in your life it helps tremendously.  Don’t think you have any blessings?  Everyone does.  You have been taught how to read this, that’s one.  You have technology, that’s another.  This is not censored, that’s three.  You are alive.  Already we are at four.

Watch a Movie

Watch a Movie
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Whenever I start feeling down, or overwhelmed, I find myself on the couch replaying a movie I’ve watched many times.  Pick a movie that inspires you; try for a real-life story of someone that had it really hard and they pushed through and came out better for it.  Movies can help us realize that there are people worse off in the world, thus putting our personal problems into perspective.

Balance the Negative

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When negative thoughts take over my brain I try hard to balance them with positive ones.  It seems negative thoughts are always easier for people.  Positive thoughts take a bit of work.   After practicing a few times it does get easier.  Every time I begin to become overwhelmed by negative stuff, I work diligently to think of a counterbalancing positive.  You may want to keep some of them to yourself though as people do tend to get pissed off when you always find the bright side.  Little do they know you are just trying cope too. 

Clean the Kitchen

Messy Kitchen
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Cleaning something, anything, not only keeps our brain occupied, it deals with a stress while managing your stress.  That’s why I choose the kitchen.  It is the one room in the house that bothers me the most when it is dirty.  What is even better is washing dishes by hand.  Something about warm water and bubbles and the process of cleaning away the dirt and grime that calms the mind.  

Cancel the Pity Party

Pity Party
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As tempting as they are, pity parties are killers of stress relief.  They may work for teenagers, but for the rest of us, a pity-party is sure to push us down further.  Misery-loves-company is such a true statement.  I am fortunate to have a circle of friends that after I tell them about my stress, they say, "That sucks, but don’t have a hissy fit over it, deal with it." Nice friends right?

Read a Book

Read a Book
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Sometimes stopping the mind by forcing it to read words on a page can be extremely helpful.  Reading slows down our breathing, helps us sit still and engages us in someone else’s story.  We live our own drama enough, sometimes it’s just good to read someone else’s situation.

Walk Barefoot in Wet Grass

Bare Feet
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I remember reading a book about 10 years ago that had a natural remedy for cold sores.  Since cold sours often come with stress, I think one can apply the same technique without having the cold soar.  The book suggested walking barefoot in wet grass.  Try it, it actually does calm you down.  At least until you step in Fido’s present left earlier that day.  With that said, I can almost guarantee you will not be worrying about tomorrow when you have doggy doo doo squishing between your toes.

See Your Dream

See Your Dreams
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Taking a few moments to visualize your ideal situation does wonders to help calm you down.  Create a picture in your mind of what you are doing in the future and how calm and relaxed you feel and look.   Take that imaginary picture and put it an imaginary helium balloon and let it go.  Then stop thinking about it.  This is a 5 minute exercise just to remind you of what you want and to ‘put it out there’ in the universe to help make it happen.

Have a Nerf War

Nerf War
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Find some kids in the neighborhood, or even a few fun seeking colleagues and have a Nerf gun war.  And if you don’t have Nerf guns, play anything.  Just play.  Be a kid for even just 15 minutes, but fully be a kid.  Roll on the ground, hide, chase, jump, climb, whatever.  Just play.

Do Absolutely Nothing

Do Absolutely Nothing
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One of my favorites for dealing with stress is to do absolutely nothing.  Literally just sit down and don’t do anything.  It took me nearly a decade to not only learn how to do that but also to understand that doing nothing can actually help more than doing something.  Doing nothing allows my brain to help find the solution.  Doing nothing also helps me determine how critical the stress really is and if I am making a mountain out of a molehill.  Try it.  It’s hard, but worth it.



Nov 13, 2014 3:37pm
Naps and doing nothing are my favourites on your list.
Nov 26, 2014 1:34am
Watching a movie and taking a nap are really good stress reliever.
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  1. Jennifer Soong "The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps." WebMD. 29/11/2011. 13/11/2014 <Web >
  2. FAWNE HANSEN "50 HEALTH EXPERTS SHARE THEIR FAVORITE STRESS-BUSTING TIPS." The Adrenal Fatigue Solution. 24/08/2014. 13/11/2014 <Web >
  3. "Top 10 Stress Management Techniques Stress Management Techniques." Santa Clara University - The Wellness Centre. 13/11/2014 <Web >

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