If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and worrying, or ruminating over everyday things, it could be a sign of anxiety or depression. Anxiety and stress are physical and emotional responses to perceived dangers. For example, in everyday life we might worry about an event to take place in the future. But, when we predict that future as having a scary or undesirable outcome, it creates anxious thoughts and feelings. So, how can you tell if you're anxious and what can you do to reduce stress today?
Physical & Emotional Signs of Stress:
1. General irritability, hyper-excitation, or depression
2. Pounding heart
3. Impulsive behavior
4. Urge to cry
5. Inability to concentrate
6. Emotional tension, feeling of being "amped up"
7. Trembling, ticks
8. Easily startled, "jumpy"
9. Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, teeth grinding during sleep
Four Things To Do To Reduce Stress Today:
1. Get More Sleep.
A tired body is ill prepared to handle everyday annoyances and stressors, and it can have serious negative health consequences. Try to schedule a minimum of six hours of snooze time and see how it alleviates stress. Since telling you to "get more sleep" is easier said than done, here are a few suggestions to set the stage for better sleep: 1) turn off all blue lights (computers, TV, phones) an hour before bedtime, 2) create a sleep environment by including reading, white noise, and meditation before bed and, 3) implement end of the day rituals like warm baths, showers, and cuddle time with pets.. If you've tried a sleep routine and it hasn't worked, talk to your doctor. When you’re not sleeping well, everyday annoyances might make you feel even more overwhelmed and frustrated because you’re more vulnerable.
2. Cut Back on Caffeine & Alcohol
Scaling back on your intake of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can help reduce stress, as well as, improve sleep patterns. Although stimulants sometimes appear to create a brief break from your symptoms, or offer a mid-day pick-me-up, they will quickly make patterns of anxiety worse. These substances are also addictive, which might lead to other long-term problems.
3. Take Time to "Worry"
Don’t take your worries with you to sleep at night. Set aside 10-mintes before bedtime to write down your concerns and any solutions. Ruminating over one topic? Create pros and cons list, and then ask yourself how you will handle any outcome that presents itself. Then put your notes away for the night.
4. Say "No"
If you're losing your mind over your multiple projects, your long school hours, your never-ending job search or your family and social obligations, it's easy to feel like you have to keep it all together. But, that's impossible! Rushing around increases stress and can lead to not getting stuff done. Try starting your day by creating a list of tasks, and then prioritize it. Then, for the really tough part, say "no" to people who ask for more than you want or are able to give.
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