Updated: Jun 22
Stress is one of the biggest causes of anxiety and often we are our own worst enemy. As humans, stress can be good for us but only in short bursts. If we experience it for a prolonged period of time, it begins to have negative effects on our health, including causing anxiety.
The worst time for my anxiety was actually once I had finished university. I didn’t realise how stressed I was for the three years and once I had finally finished it, it was like a pressure valve had released that caused my body to feel like it was failing me. I began having severe anxiety attacks where I couldn’t sleep, eat and I really thought there was something physically wrong with me.
Since then, I adapted my lifestyle so that I wouldn’t allow myself to get stressed. Hopefully this can help you too.
1. Make your evening relaxed
One of the things I realised I was doing was working late into the night. I’ve always been a night person and that is where I find you have the most time to work that is free from interruptions and it also feels like there is no time restriction. However, this resulted in me not sleeping how I should and creating an unhealthy environment for me.
Try to do something relaxing every night before bed. Have dinner and then unwind. Watch films, or read books, just make sure it’s something that helps you relax rather than getting yourself worked up. That includes playing games. I wouldn’t recommend playing video games too late as it takes focus and stops your brain from unwinding.
2. Cut out the negative people from your life
This was something really hard for me to do as I struggled to know what was the right thing to do. There were people in my life that I had known for many years but as we grew older, our lives headed in different directions.
It’s important to fill your life with positivity and people play an important role with that. They can lift your spirits or bring them down. There were even family members that I distanced myself from as they weren’t kind and they didn’t want to focus on good things, just the bad.
People can add stress through pressures and judgements that you feel you have to conform to. As you go through life, you realise that true friends and family are supportive and you feel better around them, even if your opinion on matters differs.
It can be scary to start cutting contacts but try to look at it as making room for new people, who are more positive. You will know who your true friends are and cutting them from your life doesn’t necessarily mean totally, but maybe just add some distance.
3. Break down tasks into manageable chunks
Breaking down tasks helps me enormously as it ensures that I can manage my time well. It also means that it is less daunting. I find that breaking things down also helps me to finish the total task quicker than if I try and do it all at once. Working on things one bit at a time makes it easier and less stressful.
For assignments at university, I would break down the assignments into individual tasks and write those down on post-it notes which would then go on my wall (colour coded if possible). Every time I completed a task I would take down the post-it note. It brought an enormous amount of satisfaction to see the number of them go down and the individual tasks didn’t take much time at all.
4. Listen to music
During my teenage years, I would listen to music all of the time. I loved it. As time went on though and I got older, I listened to it less and less. I always had a lot to do and I didn’t want to get distracted. In my free time, films and TV came to the forefront especially with the streaming services that became available.
Music can affect our mood drastically and it can be a fantastic way to unwind. There are times now where after a difficult day I will play my favourite playlist and just lie back on my bed. It brings a lot of happiness and helps me to relax. All the stress of the day or anxious thoughts disappear when you connect with music which makes it a fantastic tool.
It can also be good to listen to music when doing certain tasks as it becomes more fun rather than a chore. It’s important that it isn’t distracting though.
5. Keep in touch with people
When dealing with stress, it’s easy to become withdrawn.Thankfully with social media we are able to stay connected with people on a daily basis. It’s important to talk to others to help you process your thoughts and emotions as well as not getting stuck inside your own head.
Make time to see your friends and try to use social media to stay connected with people and enjoy some time. There are also a number of pages that are dedicated to support which can help you when you are faced with a stressful dilemma.