Stress & Anxiety Quick Fixes
Seriously Danielle, quick fixes to relieve stress and anxiety? ABSOLUTELY.
I know we are all interested in quick fixes – I mean, we’re busy! Busy working, busy being a parent, busy being a romantic partner, or even, BUSY BEING STUCK in stress and anxiety.
The ones I have listed here are evidence-based (I’m tapping into my medical background), and please note, these are not all-inclusive.
Having access to practicing a quick fix allows us to easily ACCESS and USE our problem solving, logical, compassionate, flexible and most self-controlled self. That’s a win at work, at home, and within your own soul!
I’ve talked to experts, my clients, and used my personal experiences to come up with this list.
Are you thinking “Ermagawd. Again?!”
Think, “Oh goodie, I GET TO exercise to produce healing, healthy hormones”. Yes, you GET TO.
I interviewed a local expert on exercise, Travis Barrett M.S., CSCS with Evolution Athletics here in Lawrence, KS. I asked him to contribute a small piece to my blog on ways to SIMPLY add in exercise for us anxious and stressed people. Here’s what he said:
Exercise Expert says:
I work with a wide range of clients who are incredibly busy managing a career, maintaining a balanced family life, and trying to keep themselves healthy. What I have noticed is this, when people get out of balance, they often get stressed out and overwhelmed.
Often times, clients will cut back on their health first in order to take care of family and career obligations thinking that they must cut time out with workouts. However, this is not the case.
During client sessions, I do my best to make sure they are doing some variation of the following; squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulling exercises. These are BIG, multijoint movements that are going to work the entire body and get the clients the most return for their time.
Two of my favorite exercises that I think everyone should be capable of doing are the trap bar deadlift and the med ball slam. These are very basic exercises that will get the heart rate up and work the entire body in a very short period of time.
In addition to getting someone stronger and being heart healthy, I have found these exercises to be great for stress relief.
Travis continues with Showing Up!
Often times when clients feel stressed or overwhelmed, their natural inclination is to stay at home with their thoughts and dwell on the stressful situations. However, I encourage all of my clients to always come in, no matter what is going on and it is my job to adjust the training program based on how their body is feeling.
I want clients to come in even when they’re stressed because; 1) it gets them out of the house and “forces” them to socialize 2) it gets their blood pumping and heart rate up and takes their mind off the stressful situations and 3) often times clients will confide in me about what is going on and they feel better after they are able to vent and get their feelings out.
Example of Showing Up and Benefiting
An example from just last week was a woman (in her 30’s) that had been on vacation for a week. She comes in to work out yesterday and I could tell something was wrong. She goes on to tell me that her husband got laid off and the company she is currently working will be closing its doors in the next few months, so she is busy interviewing everywhere.
So, the first thing I had her do was medicine ball slams. I told her “just slam the ball down until you feel better, don’t worry about sets and reps right now”. She went on to probably do 50-60 med ball slams. In less than 3 minutes her heart rate is up, she’s sweating, and is now laughing and said to me “now I feel a lot better”!
Another one of my clients saw her doing the med ball slams and said: “those make me feel better too”!
Last thoughts from Travis
A second option that I strongly suggest for those who sit a lot with work is to set an alarm every 50 minutes. Every 50 minutes, get up from your desk and move around for 10 minutes; over the course of the day you will have reached above 60 minutes of exercise.
Please feel free to reach out on social media if you have any questions or would like further explanation. Travis would be happy to help.
Stress and Anxiety Expert says:
To piggyback on what Travis wrote, I would recommend walking. This is a low-stress activity that can soothe you AND you can access walking any and everywhere!
- Pace in your home
- Jog or walk around the block
- Walk in your gym
- Find a local trail to walk on
You can complete this simple effective solution in more than 1 way.
- You can write for 10-15 minutes daily (recommended), every other day, 3x a week, or when you are feeling anxious. It is a great tool to pull yourself out of “woe is me” thoughts when anxiety is high.
- When you journal, you should be writing in detail about your thoughts and feelings on a stressful topic, on your desired end goal in mind, writing your gratitude for the day, or general planning and brainstorming. The method you choose can depend on your mood and needs at that time.
- Use a pen and paper. Use your computer. Talk to text with your phone. What works best for you? Personally and Scientifically, I know that handwriting is the most powerful way to complete this task, but the others work too. PLEASE do not worry about your penmanship, spelling errors, or judging your thoughts. This is for you.
- Write first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, evening, or when you need it. Schedule a reoccurring time in your calendar to complete it, or set a reminder. Keep your pen clipped to, or right next to your journal for ease.
Journaling helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in a vortex. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your journaling as personal relaxation time, a time for self-care, and a time when you de-stress. Write in fra place that’s relaxing —maybe with a cup of tea, warm blanket, and soothing music.
Journaling is my go-to strategy and one that often works with my clients. If you skip a day or 2, no worries. Just pick it right back up!
Deep Abdominal Breathing
I know we’ve talked about this before. This is the #1, the number one, the Number 1 thing you can do to help ease your stress and anxiety.
I could tell you all kinds of nerdy and scientific stuff behind this, as I know it, but I ain’t gonna do that to you here. Just breathe.
Damn. Just breathe!
Anxiety and stress steal your breath away. Steal it back.
Deep abdominal breathing allows you to access advanced emotions, such as compassion, self control, and logical thought.
Take back your rational mind when you’re stressed and anxious! You can do it!
I’m included in this “we” business. “We” really falls under the category of humans.
Deep abdominal breathing is also called diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing, and belly breathing. So, how do we do this?
- Place 1 hand on your chest
- Place 1 hand on your stomach
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs
- Let your abdomen expand fully.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
- Repeat – go for 10 or more reps
If you are like me, deep breathing seems unnatural. I mean, I’m asking you to expand your belly!
There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on proper breathing in our culture. A flat stomach is desirable and we tend to tighten our stomach muscles. This prevents deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases stress and anxiety.
Use one of these 3 techniques that are proven, evidence-based strategies to break the stress and anxiety vortex. All 3 strategies can help in the immediate crisis – and practiced repetitively they help prevent stress and anxiety.
Pick 1 to trial. Practice it for about a week. Assess how it is or is not working for you.
Get an accountability partner (I’m for hire!)
Determine if it would benefit you to add in another technique. Reassess.
Leave a comment on which action step you are going to pick!
It could benefit you to look into long-term fixes. Long-term fixes include being challenged on or discovering your beliefs, mindset, and behaviors. When I say long-term, I’m talking more time to process, experiment, and practice – I’m not referring to long-lasting fixes as all of these could be long-lasting. Long-term could be 1 week, it could be 3 months. If you are interested in more of a long-term fix, then contact me to see if we can work together.