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Managing Stress & Anxiety

March 27, 2020 4 min read

Ārepa Blog Stress & Anxiety

Between work, family, busy commutes, fitting in regular exercise and socialising – it’s no wonder that we can tend to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Worry can be helpful or unhelpful, and psychologists often distinguish between worries concerning ‘real problems’ vs. ‘hypothetical problems’.

  • Real problem worries are about actual problems that need solutions right now. For example, getting your car serviced, or preparing for a big pitch at work. There are helpful solutions like prioritising your weekly schedule, speaking to loved ones and getting enough sleep.
  • Hypothetical worries might include thinking about worst-case scenarios (what we might call catastrophising) for example, losing your job or needing to buy a new car.

Worry isn’t just in our heads. When it becomes excessive we feel it as anxiety in our bodies too. Physical symptoms of worry and anxiety include:

  • Muscle tension or aches and pains.
  • Restlessness and an inability to relax.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Feeling easily fatigued.

What can I do about worry?

In our contemporary, high-speed society, it is only natural to experience concerns. However, if these worries begin to consume you, causing excessive anxiety or sleep disturbances, it may be beneficial to explore techniques to minimise the amount of time spent in excessive worry. Try taking the following steps to more actively manage your well-being.

  • Maintain balance in your life. Psychologists think that well-being comes from living a life with a balance of activities that give you feelings of pleasure, achievement, and closeness. Remember that we're social animals – we need connections to thrive and flourish. We would recommend trying to do regular activities that are social and involve other people. 
  • Identify your worries. Practise identifying whether your worry is 'real problem' worry, or 'hypothetical worry'. If you're experiencing lots of hypothetical worry, then it's important to remind yourself that your mind is not focusing on a problem that you can solve right now, and to find ways to let the worry go and focus on something else. 
  • Practise postponing your worry. Worry is insistent – it can make you feel as though you have to engage with it right now. But you can experiment with postponing hypothetical worry, and many people find that this allows them to have a different relationship with their worries. In practice, this means deliberately setting aside time each day to let yourself worry (e.g. 30 minutes at the end of each day). It can feel like an odd thing to do at first! It also means that for the other 23.5 hours in the day you try to let go of the worry until you get to your 'worry time'.
  • Speak to yourself with compassion. Worry can come from a place of concern - we worry about others when we care for them. A traditional cognitive behavioural therapy technique for working with negative, anxious, or upsetting thoughts is to write them down and find a different way of responding to them. You can practise responding to your anxious or worrying thoughts with kindness and compassion. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Learning and practising mindfulness can help us to let go of worries and bring ourselves back to the present moment. For example, focusing on the gentle movement of your breath or the sounds you hear around you, can serve as helpful 'anchors' to come back to the present moment and let go of worries. Check out our blog onjournalingand meditation.
  • Set a routine. Maintain a regular time for waking up and going to bed, eating at regular times, getting ready in the morning and winding down at night. You could use a timetable to give structure to your day. 
  • Stay mentally and physically active. When you plan your daily timetable, have a go at including activities that keep both your mind and body active. For example, you could try learning something new with an online course or challenge yourself to learn a new language. It’s also important to keep physically active. For example doing rigorous housework for 30 minutes, or an online exercise video.
  • Eat healthy. This is the time to nourish your bod, simply said: good food makes you feel good. You get energised on a physical and a mental level, whereas fast food and fatty/sugary food will leave you feeling lethargic not long after you've finished it. The physical symptoms of worry and anxiety we talked about before can be minimised with proper food as well. Ārepa is all natural and caffeine-free, formulated by a world-leading neuroscientist with Pine Bark Extract, L-theanine, plus Neuroberry Blackcurrants packed with vitamin C  for psychological support and neurological function as part of a healthy and varied diet.
  • Practice gratitude. At times of uncertainty, developing a gratitude practice can help you to connect with moments of joy, aliveness, and pleasure. At the end of each day, take time to reflect on what you are thankful for today. Try to be specific and notice new things each day, for example ‘I am grateful that it was sunny at lunchtime so I could sit outside’. You could start a gratitude journal, or keep notes in a gratitude jar. You might also like to try setting aside half an hour each day for relaxation or mindfulness.
  • Notice and limit worry triggers. Try to notice what triggers your worry. For example, is it checking your work email in the evening? Endlessly scrolling on social media? Try to limit the time that you are exposed to worry triggers each day. You might choose to set a deadline on when you turn off your phone and computer, or you could limit the amount of time you spend on social media. 

Take care of yourself. Try to find ways to look after yourself each day, such as eating nourishing food, doing exercise that you enjoy and getting enough sleep. It is important to take time for yourself during the week and make sure that you get some self-care in. 

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