No point in beating around the bush, let’s get straight to it. Here are my top five ways to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
1. When at work it is important to remember to take regular breaks from your desk. Working intensely without one is sure to create a build up of stress and tension, which can lead to anxiety and depression if maintained over a long period of time. Take at least one 15 minute break during the morning and one mid- afternoon as well as a lunch break. Try and have a change of scenery and eat your lunch away from your workstation. Also, if you have a lot of issues going on in your life right now, make time and take yourself away for a day, or a weekend to give yourself some breathing space, you will really feel the benefit. If removing yourself from the situation seems totally out of the question allow yourself a few hours to distance yourself from your problems by doing something that you really enjoy. Creating some free time will help reduce your stress levels, but it also gives you some much needed space to gather your thoughts.
2. Regular exercise is a great way to alleviate moments of stress, depression and anxiety. Regular exercise releases chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream, giving you a natural boost of happiness. It will also offer you a distraction from brooding and dwelling on your problems – but only if you carry out the right kind of exercises. High energy exercise is fun, fast and requires total concentration. Avoid: Low energy exercise, like weight lifting, jogging or treadmills as they can be done almost automatically, leaving you freedom to ponder your situation, which is not good. Competitive sports such as squash, tennis, badminton and circuit training are all excellent examples of high energy exercises which will keep you totally focused and in the ‘here and now’. It is important that whilst doing exercise to remove yourself mentally from your situation, although you will be benefiting physically your levels of stress will increase and depression and anxiety will only get worse.
3. Give yourself a break and stop beating yourself up. Self-deprecation plays a large part in creating stress, depression and anxiety. Each time you behave negatively towards yourself, you chip away at your confidence and self-esteem. Under no circumstances is it right to tell yourself you are useless, worthless, stupid, hopeless, boring, ugly or even a loser. Don’t take things personally and convince yourself that others hate you and that they don’t like your company, so you would be better off alone. You would never think it okay to say these things to other people, so why think it is acceptable to say them to yourself? These words are very powerful and once said can never be taken back and long term they will hurt you. It’s okay that you are not perfect; you will make mistakes – lots of them, but from them you learn and grow, just like everyone else. So cut yourself some slack and from this day forward, I want you to make a pact with yourself never to indulge self-deprecation ever again! IT IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH.
4. Isolating yourself from other people is another big problem when suffering from stress, depression and anxiety. That being said, it’s OK to spend time on your own, there will be occasions when you just want your own space. But it is very easy to mull over your problems and situation too many times, punishing yourself for hours on end with no positive outcome. Instead use this time in a much more positive manner. Preoccupy your mind by doing a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword in your daily newspaper, read a book or carry out a hobby like painting, playing a musical instrument or whatever it is you enjoy doing. Using your time in a more positive way will help you to grow; it is an alternative to causing yourself additional pain.
5. Television, radio and newspapers are packed full of negativity that will contribute to lowering your mood. Stories constantly reflecting the negative side of life: crime, corruption, war, scandal and natural disasters will give you a much distorted outlook on reality. Not forgetting the countless images that have been manipulated by advertisers to get you to subscribe to their products. Do yourself a favour and remove yourself from this daily negative drip feed of unrealistic expectations on your reality. Avoid all form of media for just one week, see how you feel, you never know you might even find, like I have, that they have no place in your life anymore. Trust me, you won’t miss them.
Have fun, keep smiling and be happy!