Three Tools to Naturally Manage Stress and Anxiety Disorder

For our ancestors, the anxiety response was a survival skill – adrenaline and cortisol spiked in order to help them fight or flee from danger.

So feeling stress and anxiety is not something bad that happens to you. It can be considered a powerful and proper response in the face of adversity.

The problem is, in modern times it’s much harder to return to baseline because many of our anxiety triggers do not require a physical response such as sprinting to avoid being eaten.

The act of fleeing the hungry beast helped us burn off cortisol and adrenaline. But if the beast is a big fat deadline and we’re forced to remain seated at our desk, we have a much harder time burning off these stress chemicals coursing through our bodies.
The result is we’re walking around jacked-up on leftover stress hormones. Then we go for downers and distractions to calm down and return to baseline. Of course booze, drugs and distractions don’t help us find a truly relaxed state. So let’s nip this problem before it starts.

In This Post

Here are three tools to help you naturally resolve your stress and anxiety:

1. Wake up and smell the adrenaline?

If you begin your day by scrolling on your phone while making coffee and listening to the news, you’ve just welcomed three saber-tooth tigers into your space. Your body is now in a stressed and anxious state.
Social media, the news, and caffeine have all been shown to increase adrenaline levels and lead to anxiety and depressive disorders for some.

So instead of scrolling first thing in the morning, ask yourself how you want to set the tone for your day.

I’m guessing you’d like for it to be upbeat, peaceful, and productive. So why not start your day with something that sets you up for just that?

Try taking the time you’d otherwise give to the morning scroll for something you find uplifting and calming. That looks different for all of us, but here are a few ideas: gentle stretching, breathwork, meditation, self-massage, reading from your scripture book, journaling…. you get the gist, right? If it feels like self-love and uplifts you, that’s the better option.

Consider alternatives to coffee.

People metabolize caffeine differently, and there is evidence that caffeine has health benefits for those of us who don’t immediately get jittery from caffeine.

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2. Daily exercise is critical for helping us burn off the stress chemicals pent up in our bodies. It is one of the best tools we have for relieving anxiety.

Aerobic exercise is shown in study after study to elevate our mood, reduce the sense of stress, and improve our sleep. All of these lend to elevated self-esteem and a sense of calm.
Aerobic exercise may be the most effective at burning through stress chemicals, but ANY kind of movement, even in small amounts, is better than none.
Try to carve out little moments throughout your day to stretch, walk, or even get your heart rate elevated.

There are many reasons to do this, but if you suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, this should be non-negotiable.

The Move Well section of my website has many sequences that range from more active flows to quiet winddowns. It’s another great resource for you no matter where you are on the physically-able spectrum.

3. If you run from anxiety you’ll make it worse. Face your stress and anxiety triggers head-on.

Often we respond to the stress of the world by filling it with busyness. Maybe that looks like checking emails or the phone constantly. Maybe you feel more in control by taking on more projects than you can reasonably do.
But our brains are not very good at multitasking. In fact, if we have too many things to do that feel urgent, our brain can go into shutdown mode.
Now you’ve just compounded the stress you’re feeling!
You’ll be a lot more effective if you practice learning how to slow down and observe where you are in a given moment. This strengthens your ability to quickly return to a parasympathetic/calm state. Think of it as building an emotional muscle.

Breathwork and guided meditation are excellent training tools for building emotional self-regulation. In this video, I guide you through some of the same breathwork the Navy Seals use to train their soldiers to stay centered in a crisis.

In addition, I made this guided meditation to help you practice staying calm and centered even in the middle of a very stressful situation. It teaches how to use the body as a safe, steady place from which to observe the storm of stress.

If you master it, you may have much better success at slaying your mental dragons without the aid of your stress hormones. And that, my friend, can lead to a calmer, happier, healthier you!
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