Many Americans struggle with stress-related illnesses such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and panic attacks. In many cases, medication helps patients cope with these symptoms. However, America has a prescription drug problem, and more patients are recognizing this. As a result, they are turning to stress-reducing techniques to supplement or replace their medications and decrease their dependency. If you are dealing with a stress-induced condition, some of these techniques may help you.
Working out is one of the first techniques your doctor may recommend. Moving around helps your body process adrenaline, which contributes to stress. It also helps clear your mind, making it easier to focus on tasks, and gives you plenty of endorphins. It’s important to find an exercise that works for you. Mind-body exercises such as yoga and Pilates are good choices for coping with stress. If you are highly social, Zumba or another cardio class may be best for you. If you enjoy sports, find a local league to join.
Be Still and Quiet
It’s important to balance exercise with stillness, as well as activities like meditation, which actually reverses the fight-or-flight response you feel when stressed and when symptoms of your stress-related condition occur. Meditation doesn’t have to be religious; you can simply engage in deep breathing. If you’d like a spiritual experience, however, you can combine meditation with prayer or recitations from your holy texts.
When you have anxiety, depression, or PTSD, it’s easy to focus on the negative. You should never deny your feelings, but consciously switching from negative to positive thoughts can help you cope. Try some simple positivity exercises, such as finding and writing down one to three things per day you are grateful for. Compliment others or send them encouraging messages; helping others can reaffirm your belief that kindness exists in the world.
Quiet Your Inner Critic
We all have an inner critic – that little voice inside saying we’re not good enough, we should be doing X instead of Y, or if we did Z, people would like us more. Self-improvement is good. Self-criticism and blame are not. Whenever you hear your inner critic, quiet it with affirmations. Say things like, “I like myself,” “I am talented at X,” “I am a good person.” Write down these affirmations and put them in places you see every day. Combine them with prayer, meditation, and exercise.