5 Ways to Decrease Stress and Anxiety

The holiday season brings on a new level of stress and for many of us, anxiety as well.  Add COVID-19 into the mix, and you also may be feeling sad and more anxious.  The holiday season adds more to the never-ending to-do list; from shopping and wrapping presents, cooking for family gatherings, to baking and cleaning- just to name a few!

If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone. I encourage you to try some of the following tips to see what works best for you.  

Here are my top tips to help reduce stress:

  1. Focusing on your breathing, or the way you breathe, can lower your stress levels. Try this deep breathing exercise: sit or stand up tall.  Close your mouth and take a DEEP and slow breath in through your nose (with mouth closed), then blow the air out through your mouth slowly. Perform this 5-10 times, this can be performed anywhere. 
  2. Take a walk and get moving.  Most of us know exercise is a great stress reliever!  But getting outside, changing the scenery, and going for a walk can have great benefits for the mind and body.  Remember that you don't have to take a long walk or have a lot of time. Even walking around the block or walking for 10 minutes can make a difference.
  3. Positive self talk. STOP the negative self-talk. I know this is hard, I am guilty of it as well.  Our patterns of self-talk are often negative. But the truth is, our thoughts have more power than we think. So if you catch yourself thinking something negative such as “I just can’t do this,” or “I am a failure at everything,” try saying to yourself “I can do this, I need to make time to focus on this goal.”  Positive self-talk can help you reshape the way you look at stressful situations.  Another great tip would be daily affirmations that you read to yourself in the morning, for example, “I am an amazing woman” and “I can do anything I set my mind to.”
  4. Gratitude journal. This is something new I am starting.  Set 5-10 minutes aside each day to write down 3 things you are grateful for. When you are feeling stressed or down, you can look back through your journal and be reminded of all of your blessings. Focusing on the positive things you have in your life can decrease your stress levels. 
  5. Setting priorities.  This is a HUGE one if you are feeling overwhelmed by everything “you have to do” in the months of November and December. If you have kids, you know exactly what I am talking about!   Focus on quality family traditions rather than quantity.  Narrow it down to 3-4 things to do instead of 5-6 things. If you spread yourself too thin, especially around the holidays, you will be more stressed! (I am guilty of this one as well!) So take a step back to re-evaluate your commitments and schedule - and ask for help when needed. 

Identifying stressors in your life is key.  Then figure out how to avoid the stressors from occurring, instead of how to deal with them.  Of course, life is never perfect and we can’t avoid everything that may cause stress.  

During the holiday season I would encourage you to continue a healthy lifestyle-  exercise and eating real, nutritious foods will help with your stress and anxiety levels. 

If you still feel none of these tips help you relieve stress or anxiety, I would encourage you to reach out to your doctor for help.  Seeing a therapist is also great for people with high anxiety.  I am sharing this with you today because I too have had to resort to professional medical help after having 3 kids. So do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking professional help when it comes to anxiety or depression, especially postpartum. Your mental, emotional and psychological health is just as important as your physical health. This is something that cannot and should not be ignored! 

And if you're ready for more support and encouragement from other moms, come join us in The Healthy Mama Huddle!