This article was written by our Everly Mag ambassador Sophia. Find out more about our ambassador program here.
First, allow me to distinguish the difference between stress and anxiety. They are not the same thing. Everyone experiences stress, but not everyone has anxiety. By definition, anxiety and stress are categorized by separate feelings. The stress we experience in our day-to-day lives is associated with frustration and nervousness, where anxiety often comes from a place of fear, unease, and worry.
The way I describe it to people is very simple. My best friend always stresses about tests. She always calls me the night before a test saying that she is nervous she isn’t going to pass the test. I, on the other hand, always experience anxiety with tests. I go into full-blown panic attacks where I can’t breathe and I feel as if the world is spinning. Now, this doesn’t mean that tactics that help with stress don’t work with anxiety as well. Most of them do. The difference is that the tactics will relieve stress, but they will only lessen anxiety. One popular tactic that I have been working on is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. So what does that mean? All that means is that when you practice mindfulness, you are making yourself be in the moment while acknowledging how you are feeling. There are a couple different ways to practice mindfulness.
If you’re in the middle of class, a meeting, a lecture, etc. the best way is to breathe. The key part is making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. The way I do this is by tracing my finger on my phone. When I am inhaling, I trace the top part of my phone, then when I exhale, I trace the side of my phone. You can do this however it works for you, just again, make sure that your exhale is longer than your inhale.
The best way to practice mindfulness when you’re getting ready in the morning, or at night before you go to bed, is by using a mindfulness or meditation app. The one that I use is called Calm. You can choose between different time increments such as three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, etc. What I suggest doing is to start with the three minute one and work your way up as you start becoming a “pro” at mindfulness. If mindfulness doesn’t sound like something for you, don’t worry, there’s plenty of other tactics to use.
Another tactic that I use is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is defined as the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils in massage or baths. However, you can use aromatherapy outside of the bathroom. I have a bracelet that has porous stones in it, allowing me to put essential oils on the bracelet and for it to last long. I typically put lavender or peppermint oil in mine because those smells help calm me down. So if I am in class, I can just smell my bracelet and it will help me. You can also get necklaces like this or just use your wrists if you’re not a jewelry person. You could also have candles of your favorite scent and just put those on while you’re studying or doing something that is stressful for you or can trigger your anxiety. My friend loves the smell of fresh baked cupcakes and cookies, so she bought some candles with that sent and uses them all the time. Getting back to essential oils, another thing that is commonly used is a diffuser. All you have to be put some water and a few drops of an essential oil of your choice. Depending on the diffuser, it can last between 3-6 hours. I like to turn mine on when I go to bed to help calm myself while I fall asleep.
One of my favorite way to help calm myself down is exercise. Now, this doesn’t always mean going to an actual gym or being in your basement spending countless hours on a treadmill. That might be some people’s jam, but that is definitely not mine. For me, my exercise is taking my dogs for a walk. Unfortunately, where I live we have very long winters. During that time, I create tiny 15-20 exercise routines that I pick myself, or I use workout videos on YouTube. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have snowy winters, lucky you. You can take your dogs for a walk all year round. If you don’t have a dog, take a walk by yourself or with a friend, parent or sibling. Dancing is a way to exercise that lasts all year round. Whether it’s mindless dancing to whatever tunes are on Spotify, or an actual choreographed dance, this is a great way to get some exercise, relieve stress, and have fun while doing it too! Everyone has their own ways of exercising. Find what works best and use it!
One tactic that is not always easy, but does work, is talking to a friend, parent or a trusted adult. I don’t think I go through one day without venting to my best friends, teachers, and my mom. Sometimes getting things off your chest is just what you need. Whoever you’re talking may also have some great advice, you may never know.
So talking might not be your thing. An alternative to this is to write down your frustrations/worries in a journal. Make this journal for your eyes only, or only to be seen by trusted people. This is one that I used frequently while I was in the hospital and it helped me a lot. Writing my feelings down and then reading it back to myself really helped me think the situation through.
One mind-numbing activity that helps my activity is watching TV. Turn on a TV show that doesn’t require a lot of brain power to watch. Family Guy or any reality TV show tends to be my top pick. Music is one of the greatest medicines when it comes to relieving stress. Sometimes when my anxiety is really high, I turn on my Spotify and just listen to some tunes and it helps me calm for a few minutes. Because my life is so crazy and busy, I generally don’t have time for this next tactic, but it works. If you have time in your day, take a bath. Just take some “you time”. This is one that I love to use on the weekends, when my schedule tends to loosen up a little bit.
Do you practice mindfulness? Comment below!
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- How Self-Care Helped Me Take Control of my Mental Health
- How “Purple Hearts” Changed My Life
- 3 Ways to De-Stress, Unplug, and Increase Self-Esteem
- How “A Little Too Much” by Shawn Mendes Changed My Life
- Ambassador Guest Post: What’s Your Passion, Overcoming Anxiety, and More!
Featured Image Credit: Vidar Nordli Mathisen via Unsplash