From 40, 50 and 60 hour work weeks to shuttling kids from soccer practice to school to recitals and more to dealing with personal and social commitments, we are pulled in what feels like an infinite number of directions at all times. Unfortunately, American culture and society has pretty much pushed people into feeling like they have to do it all and often without taking breaks or resting. While some people are able to handle this multi-tasking and numerous commitments somewhat well, the majority of us do not thrive in this type of situation. In fact, these many responsibilities and different tasks we have going on in our lives often cause us to develop stress and anxiety.
And it’s not simply our busy lives and schedules that cause us to be stressed out; All sorts of events, from personal health scares to national disasters to political issues and more, can easily cause your anxiety to increase. Although some people find healthy ways to deal with their anxiety and stress, many of us try to just shelve it or cope with it in less healthy ways, such as drinking alcohol. Fortunately, there are many stress management techniques that you can use.
Figuring Out What the Underlying Problem Actually Is
Before you begin using stress and anxiety management techniques, you really need to figure out what is causing your anxiety. In order to better pinpoint where your stress is coming from, consider the following:
- On whom or what do you normally blame your stress? Try to be more aware of what you are saying when it comes to stress and keep notes about who or what you tend to say is causing your stress
- Be aware of what kinds of situations tend to cause you greater stress or anxiety. Do you get headaches when you are at work and your boss is disrupting your work flow? Or do you get upset and feel stressed when you are trying to balance your family’s many activities and commitments?
- Think about the way that you view stress and how you react to it. Consider whether you view it as a normal part of your everyday life or if it is caused by certain situations, and how well you believe you handle it.
Additionally, with the help and counseling of an anxiety therapist, you can better target what is causing your anxiety, which in turn gives you the ability to figure out how to better manage it.
Ways to Manage Your Stress and Anxiety
Managing stress in healthy ways isn’t always easy. For example, take a married man with two kids and a job at a software company that he doesn’t really like. Every morning, his kids wake him up much too early, causing him to start the day sleep deprived and grumpy. He goes to work, where his boss isn’t happy that he’s seemed distracted while on the job and berates him for 30 minutes. By the end of the day, he’s even more tired and unhappy, and just wants to go home and relax. However, he needs to help with cooking dinner and taking care of the kids, so he downs a couple of drinks to help him through it all, leaving him hung over and more tired in the morning when it all starts over. This is not a healthy way for him to manage his anxiety and, in the end, is likely only causing him more stress.
Fortunately, there are several easy techniques that you can use to help actually manage your stress, including:
- Take a long walk, do yoga, go for a run, or do some sort of other physical activity every day or so.
- Work on saying “no” more to things you don’t want to do or that would cause you to feel over-committed.
- Set aside time to relax, such as scheduling a massage, haircut, or reading a book in a bath
- Avoid overeating and drinking too much coffee or alcohol, a technique advocated for by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Talking with an experienced therapist and stress management professional can also help you cope with your stress and learn how to best manage anxiety.