4 ways to deal with anxiety and stress

By Madeline Calfas

In today’s environment of ‘Rona and all that comes with it, stress and anxiety levels have been hitting an all time high. Whether it’s due to financial uncertainty, concerns about at-risk family, or perhaps you are someone who is unable to get back home due to border closures – the rapid and drastic changes that we have been experiencing have left a lot of us feeling stressed the f*ck out and unsure.

Anxiety is your body’s response to stress. It’s a very normal response and a lot of people will describe it as feeling like you have knots in your stomach, or a feeling that something is not quite right, and it can leave you feeling quite on edge and nervy.

1 // TALK IT OUT

One of the best ways to help deal with feelings of stress and anxiety is to talk with someone. Whether it be a close friend or family member, or a psychologist or other health care professional, sometimes the best thing to do is talk it through. It could be that you are concerned that financially you will be unable to meet your obligations. Perhaps you are starting to feel like the walls are closing in, and you are just unable to see how you can make it through. Having the opportunity to discuss your concerns with
someone and use them as a sounding board can be a great way for you to be able to navigate your way through these feelings. Even if you don’t come up with an immediate solution, not internalising your emotions can be a fantastic way to keep them from overwhelming your mind. A lot of us tend to rapidly escalate a situation in our mind until it becomes something that is more worry than it needs to be. Let it out – don’t keep your feelings and emotions internalised.

2 // SLEEP

As difficult as it may be for mamas, ensuring that you are getting plenty of sleep is a great way to help deal with anxiety and stress. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it is unable to deal with stressors, either physical or emotional, and that can actually compound the problem and make the feelings of anxiety seem much worse. The irony of this is however, that stress and anxiety can often keep you awake at night, unable to sleep as your mind goes round and round the hamster wheel. Stress actually stimulates cortisol production, which in turn affects your body’s ability to get quality sleep. You either have difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty staying asleep, or the quality of sleep is pretty poor, leaving you sleep-deprived, which then increases cortisol levels, and around and around the cycle goes. So get a good night’s sleep to help reduce your cortisol.

Turn the TV and all blue-light emitting electronics off at least an hour before bedtime, make yourself a warm cup of sleep-inducing tea such as chamomile, lavender, passionflower and valerian root, keep food to a minimum and don’t eat too close to bedtime to ensure your digestive system isn’t working at full throttle when it’s time for lights out. Put some calming music on, have a nice warm bath or shower, and help your body covert serotonin into melatonin to promote good, quality sleep.

3 // DIET

Just to be a total killjoy here, but caffeine is a big no no when it comes to stress and anxiety. The same goes for any of the energy drinks, or anything that promotes alertness or wakefulness – dairy, alcohol, fried and spicy foods – these can all create an elevation in cortisol levels. Your body is already running on it’s adrenals, so the last thing it needs is another power surge. You ideally want to be having a diet that promotes a relaxed state – eggs, dark chocolate (the good quality 70% cacao is best), fish, brazil nuts, fatty fish and turmeric are all great foods to include in your diet when dealing with anxiety.

4 // HERBS

Seeing a naturopath or herbalist can be a great way to help with anxiety and stress. There are some amazing herbs (known as adaptogens) to help your body deal with cortisol levels. Sure, they will most likely taste pretty awful, but do they work? Absolutely.