The hardest thing about anxiety or stress is finding out that you are the creator of it yourself. Probably just like any addiction it’s hard to admit you have a problem. How would it feel to let go, really let go. Feel that constant worry drop and let those shoulders ease back down into a normal resting position; there is nothing worse than feeling tense. This is a tried and tested piece written to help you kick any anxieties out of your life and reduce stress immediately.
I am not a health care professional, and you should take my advice with an open mind (and anyone else’s on the internet). But this is what worked for me in reducing my stress immediately. I still even refer back to these tips to keep track of my stress levels.
I would recommend incorporating each point per day and review how you feel at the end of the week to how you started. But if you take my advice, I promise it will reduce stress immediately.
[This is an adaptation of my original post on reddit]
- Get some Vitamins and Fish Oil
People who are stressed out burn away vital nutrients from their brain [I guess this is where the term burnout originates]. The one thing you can do is make a healthier mind right now, I highly recommend Cod Liver Oil, (I take 1000mg every morning). I wouldn’t consider myself a morning person but this allows me to wake up mentally by 11am and not just 1pm.
Vitamin B12 is probably one of 2 supplements you should consider taking orally, the other is vitamin D. Other vitamins your body can absorb itself unless of course you have a deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is the nutrient for making you feel energized (found mostly in red meat), supplementing will help you feel less fatigued and tired. If you’re feeling stressed or burned out right now then seriously look into this. I remember the difference after taking within a few short days.
Vitamin D – A lot of people get affected by the seasons, me included (look up Seasonal Affective Disorder). Living in the UK, from about November to March you don’t see sunlight unless it’s between 8am and 4pm. Vitamin D is the only vitamin to be produced from the sun’s light. It keeps bones strong and healthy.
Try it: Go and buy a small tub of 500 or 1000mg of fish oil and 500ug of Vitamin B12
[Note: This is the only purchase in the guide, and I debated putting it first in case it would put you off starting it. However, it’s important to be the first step because it takes a week or two to feel the difference. Trust me your brain will thank you.]
- Keep media devices out of the bedroom
Being stressed often means bad sleep, and can lead to insomnia if you’re unlucky. A way to a great nights sleep is to keep it somewhat sacred. You want your mind to realise that once it gets into bed it gets to rest, your mind shouldn’t associate bed with work.
People who work on their laptops in bed amaze me. I don’t understand it. You’re working away, writing a paper, doing email, reading an article etc. and you think that once you close your lid that’s it, off to sleep. No sorry it doesn’t work like that. How do you think your brain can go from work mode to sleep mode by just shutting the lid? It takes a while to detox. Think about it this way, once you get home from a hard day at work, you carry with you annoyance about a work colleague, an assignment, or an unappreciative boss, you’ll be stewing in this at home. But after a little rant to a partner or housemate, you cook some dinner and suddenly that day’s annoyance has completely disappeared. Well it works the same way at night, allow your brain to detox from electronics and you’ll get better sleep.
A lot of people are using phones as an alarm nowadays. So just plug it in across the room so you can’t reach it and you’re not tempted to use it while in bed. Putting it on silent and no vibrating will also help too.
Try it: Create a designated place for working and keep laptops out of bed. Plug your phone in far across the room and leave it on silent (and no vibrate) all night. Bonus: Use an alarm clock and leave your phone out the room altogether!
- Get better sleep
Lack of sleep is probably the number one reason for anxiousness and stress, at least how I’ve experienced it. People have random hours of going to bed and often don’t sleep well because they have no routine.
First, everyone bangs on about getting 8 hours of sleep – I don’t really get that. Natural sleep cycles last 90 minutes long. 90 x 5 = 450 minutes or 7.5 hours, so I recommend aiming for 7.5 a night.
But what’s more effective is creating a sleep routine, I’m up at 6am most days so I detox for bed. 9.30pm – finish what I’m doing, go and shower, brush my teeth, write on a pad my to do list for tomorrow, read some fiction, then lights out for 10.30pm.
Try it: Get better sleep and you’ll reduce stress immediately. Aim for 7.5 hours and good bed time routine.
- Cut down on stimulants
Diet soft drinks are getting a lot of bad press because of aspartame. It’s basically poison going into your body. I would somewhat agree, but they messed with head rather than made me feel sick. Honestly they give me the worst headaches I have ever experienced. Once I cut them out that stress headache completely went.
Caffeine, another stimulant that gets bad press. I don’t neccesarily advocate cutting out. But I will always recommend a lower amount. I try 1 cup a day but sometimes I do have 2. It’s better than the 8 was drinking before! Try what works for you, just slowly cut down.
Alcohol (and substances), are always getting bad press and I do agree with it in regards to use of becoming stress free. Drowning a problem in drink or drugs rarely allows you to come to a solution. It just makes you feel worse in the long run, after all alcohol is a depressant. The short term high isn’t worth the long time low.
So what should you replace them with? Well water. It’s boring isn’t it? But think about it this way, your body is 70% water composition and your mind works by firing electric signals all over your brain; water is a great conductor.
Try it: Today go without a stimulant you heavily rely on, and carry a bottle instead.
- Take a day off!
Honestly, give yourself a pat on the back for trying and implementing these positive changes. A cause of stress and anxiety is a habit of always looking at the negative. Take time to appreciate what went particularly well for you this week. You don’t always have to work so hard, and give yourself a bit of credit for what you do – and if you got this far you deserve it after all.
- Guilt free fun
The biggest contributor to anxiety in my experience is not being social and not having fun. I always remember feeling guilty that I was out having fun and not working on something productive. It used to be sitting at the back of mind that I had to be at home working on my freelance stuff or coming up with the next fantastic business idea.
Then I cracked. I started scheduling in fun to my calendar. It could be anything from going to the movies, a social drink with a friend or going out for a meal with a group.
We are social animals at heart and we need to be talking to others. Also taking the time to relax and switch off allows your brain to heal and in turn actually makes you more productive.
Try it: Invite a friend to do something fun tonight or over the coming days. All it takes is saying “Hey ___, wanna catch a movie/go get some thai food/grab a beer tonight?
- Get a sweat on, exercise
Firstly everyone seems to associate exercise as going to the gym. This isn’t always the best option for some. You should enjoy what you do. I tried the 5×5 work out specifically the one on the Tim Ferriss blog and loved it. I was making progress and I genuinely enjoyed doing it.
But you can try something like grabbing a friend and playing a sport together, think of racket sports, tennis or squash. There’s plenty of fitness dance classes like Zumba too, or you can just learn to dance salsa, tango or whatever. You can even do something like throwing a ball or Frisbee back and forward. Anything to get you moving and break a sweat.
Try it: Go for a run, try a new workout, or sign up to a class you’ve always wanted to try. The simple act of moving around can reduce stress immediately, but you’ve got to wait until after to feel that burn slow down.
That’s it! Compare how you felt now to the beginning of the week. I hope it’s worked for you as it did for me.
I’m interested in your feedback, what do you agree with or disagree with and why? If you’ve found anything else that’s worked particularly well for you then please let me know by leaving a comment here.
I’m looking at giving out a free ebook to help people reclaim their lives from stress so if you’re interested in that, sign up for the blog and I can let you know when it’s done. Otherwise thanks for reading.
Photo: Flickr user – MoonJazz