If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, prioritizing self-care can reduce anxiety. Now is a great time to create a personal mental health strategy with mindfulness tools.
A 2018 Gallup Poll reported that Americans experience some of the highest levels of stress in the world. According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect nearly 1 in 5 adults every year. Anxiety develops from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Long-term exposure to stress and anxiety can have significant effects on the body.
“Stress and anxiety trigger neurocircuitry that was designed to be used sparingly to deal with life-or-death threats, not on a daily basis,” says Lynne Everatt, wellness expert and personal trainer. “Chronic stress has a corrosive effect on the brain.”
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
- Nervousness, restlessness, tension
- Feeling paralyzed by fear
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing, hyperventilation
- Increased sweating
- Trembling, muscle twitching
- Digestive problems, gas, constipation
- Weakness and lethargy
- Decreased mental focus
As mentioned in Health Dangers of Stress, untreated stress can lead to severe health issues, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. During stressful situations, the body releases the cortisol hormone. During long periods of stress, high levels of cortisol can lead to headaches, emotional instability, and cognitive malfunction.
Developing a mental health strategy can reduce symptoms of anxiety. By using mindfulness tools, you can feel more at ease and balanced in your daily life.
Release the Weight of Thoughts
To care for your mental health, you may consider practicing thought awareness. When stress and concerns weigh on the mind, the weight can feel paralyzing. Heavy thoughts can feel like physical burdens carried around all day.
If you start to feel overwhelmed with stress, try measuring your mental load. Try these three easy steps to find more focus and reduce the weight of stress.
1. List Your Load
Write down everything that is currently weighing on your mind. Make a list of all of your concerns, doubts, and responsibilities. Try not to judge your thoughts and allow them to flow freely.
2. Prioritize Your Load
Read through your list and circle the top three concerns that you absolutely must address today. Circle matters that involve the immediate health and safety of you and your loved ones. Consider circling tasks that will help you feel more grounded, supported, and empowered once completed.
3. Release Your Load
Psychology Today explains that thoughts are simply representations of reactions. When we react to a situation, our awareness of that reaction creates a thought. Thoughts help us understand what matters the most. Once we understand what a thought represents, we can relieve the weight of it.
Feel free to ask the following questions to help understand the source of your thoughts:
- How long has this concern been on my mind?
- Does this thought come from a place of love or fear?
- Is this situation out of my control?
- What do I value most in this situation?
- How can I prioritize my own health in this situation?
Give yourself time to answer these questions. Be gentle with yourself and try not to judge your thoughts. You may discover the source of your stress and look at your thoughts from a different perspective. Once you understand the underlying meaning behind the stress, it may no longer weigh on your mind as heavily.
Express Yourself with Creativity
Studies have shown a strong relationship between artistic expression and reduced stress. When the body experiences stress, it can release the cortisol hormone. Measuring cortisol levels is one way to scientifically measure stress levels.
A Drexel University Art Therapy Study found that 75 percent of adults had lower cortisol levels after 45 minutes of making collages and doodling on paper using markers. Half of the participants had limited experience making art. Skill level and artistic experience didn’t correlate to the level of the health benefit.
Not only can creativity reduce cortisol levels, it also can be used as an alternative to antidepressants. A 2016 research study found that “human creativity relies on dopamine.” Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter and balanced dopamine levels can indicate balanced mental health.
Art Healing studies show that creativity can even influence physical health including the frequency of provider visits, immune function, stress hormones and blood pressure.
There are many different types of creativity to explore and they vary based on your level of energy and resources. Try these super easy options to get started.
Expressive writing focuses on using language to communicate thoughts and emotions. By exploring rhyme, rhythm and meaning, you can discover a deeper understanding of your thought patterns.
- List 10 things you’re grateful for
- Journal about what happened during your day
- Write down a few words that rhyme
Visual Arts include tangible mediums that are visually inspiring. By exploring color, shape, symbol, and texture, you can express yourself in ways beyond the limitations of words. Visual arts tactile, can increase focus and can strengthen your mind and body connection.
- Draw shapes with pencils or markers
- Mold shapes with play dough or clay
- Color in a coloring book
Movement encompasses using your entire body to express yourself. Gestures, stretching and dancing can help you tune into your body to feel more comfortable and confident. Think beyond exercise and try simply having more fun.
- Try hula-hooping
- Play hopscotch
- Host your own silent disco dance party
Restore Balance with Supplements
Stress relief supplements can support your mental health strategy. By absorbing essential nutrients, you can restore your body back to its balanced state. When your nervous and endocrine systems are operating properly, your mind can focus more on what matters most.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to detox both physically and mentally. Support your healthy sleep habits with natural melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin helps regulate circadian rhythms and your body’s natural sleep cycle.
5-HTP can support relaxation and help you feel more rested. The brain uses 5-HTP to produce serotonin, a calming hormone. Serotonin regulates sleep, appetite and temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. 5-HTP can balance serotonin levels by helping us feel more calm, focused and grounded.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant. It can help treat conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels.
If you’d like to declutter your mood and mind, find more clarity with Tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that plays a critical role in dopamine production. Dopamine is the “feel good” hormone that is released to reward us for completing a task. Dopamine is also closely linked to memory. Tyrosine can improve mental alertness, attention and focus.
Contact Natural Bio Health Today
If you’re concerned that your stress or anxiety levels are influencing overall health, please consider reaching out to an expert. Our team is dedicated to helping you understand the numerous factors that may be keeping you from reaching your optimal health.
Our team of specialists understands our patients’ concerns about office safety during the time of COVID-19. We are proud to offer telemedicine services through video and phone calls. We are also seeing patients in person at our offices, but are abiding by new, strict safety precautions. To schedule your appointment, contact us here. We serve Texans in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Round Rock, and College Station.