10 Plus Tips To Cope With Anxiety

Got Holiday Anxiety?

With Thanksgiving comes tension for some. . .

10 Plus Tips To Cope


Don’t Let Anxiety Ruin Your Holidays

By D. S. Mitchell 

Turkey and Pumpkin Pie 

The holidays are right around the corner. Some are excited about turkey and gravy, and fancy wrapped presents, but others see only stress and anxiety on the horizon. If you are hosting parties, the stress level is on steroids; fancy china, excited young ones, guests, surprise and otherwise. It can seem overwhelming. Read on if you are looking for some tips on how to get you through the holidays as anxiety free as possible.

Be Ready

Stay rested and recharged, ahead of the holidays. Take time for yourself.  Get enough sleep, engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Don’t skip self care routines under the pressure of the approaching holidays. Don’t do it-skipping health care routines will cost in the long run. You need that 30 minutes of cardio and any other health activities you are engaged in. These activities will keep you balanced and ready to face the upcoming holiday challenges. It just might be yoga, biking, stretching, Tai Chi, or  aqua aerobics, that  saves your sanity.

Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps to coping and managing anxiety attacks. Common ones, your first day at a new job, heading an important meeting, meeting your SO’s parents. Time and reflection will be required to identify your triggers. In the meantime, there are things you can do to try to help calm or quiet your anxious mind.

4.) Use aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing. Certain receptors in your brain are activated by aromatherapy.

5.) Walking or Yoga

Just walk away if the situation is causing anxiety. It might be time to focus on  your body and not your mind to relieve your anxiety. Just move. Whether it’s the pool or the yoga mat, move your butt, it helps reduce stress. Try stretching, it can be incredibly beneficial.

6.) Write down your thoughts

Many mental health therapists suggest a client write down what’s causing their anxiety. Writing it down, gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting. My mother used this one, on a regular basis. She would write letters to the offenders and put them in envelopes addressed to whoever was causing her frustration and then stick it in a file, never sending it.

Not All Anxiety Is The Same
The previous suggestions are helpful if your symptoms are situational or sporadic. If anxiety is an on-going, persistent part of you life you may need more serious interventions and coping strategies.
Five Strategies For Coping With Long-Term Illness 

If anxiety is a regular part of your life, not just around the holidays, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you manage it. There might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or perhaps cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger. Confused, as to where to start? It is always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before moving ahead with your plan.

Some Well-Known Triggers:
  • debt
  • a stressful work environment
  • traveling
  • driving
  • DNA-genetics — anxiety, depression, alcoholism can run in families
  • drug withdrawal
  • medication side effects
  • trauma
  • phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
  • some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
  • chronic pain
  • multiple mental illness diagnoses (such as depression, OCDC, anxiety)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
Managing Those Triggers

Sometimes triggers can be obvious, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Other times triggers are less obvious and we may need a therapist to help us isolate those triggers. Long-term stress, such as financial or work-related situations, can be more difficult— is it a due date, a person, or the situation? At this point you may need some extra support, through therapy or with some trusted friends.

Then What?

Once you do figure out your trigger(s), you should try to limit your exposure to them if you can. If you can’t limit it — say because it is due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.

1.) Try Meditation

A successful meditation regime will take time and practice.  When done regularly, you can train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting your exercise routine with more active physical exertion and then start your yoga routine.

2.) Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral into a panic attack.

3.) Healthy Diet, Regular Exercise, Embrace Life 

Exercise regularly. Eat balanced meals. Get enough sleep. Stay connected to people who care about you. You may want to talk to your psychiatrist about adding supplements or nutrients to your long-term strategy.

4.) Consider Adding Supplements

Research shows certain supplements or nutrients help reduce anxiety symptoms. Some of these include:

  • lemon balm
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • green tea
  • valerian root
  • dark chocolate (in moderation)

It can take up to three months before your body is actually using the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor. I’ve said that twice. I cannot say it enough. Different medications interact with one another whether OTC  or prescription. Talk to your doc.

5.) Prescription Medications

If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from psychotropic medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Is My Anxiety Harmful?

Identifying what variety of anxiety you’re dealing with can be challenging-mainly because everyone’s body reacts to danger in entirely different ways. I’m sure you have heard “anxiety” used as a general term for feeling worry, uneasiness, or nervousness. It is often situational, a big dance, a speech, a tryout; it is often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome. Every human being deals with such emotions-at some time in their life. It is part of how we are wired, our brains respond to perceived danger, even if there is no real danger.

Things Can Get Dark

There are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that may begin slowly and initially feel manageable, but build up over a few hours. (Panic attacks are different. A panic attack comes out of the blue and then subsides.)

Signs and Symptoms of an anxiety attack

These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • feelings of danger, panic, or dread
  • nervousness/restlessness
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • trembling/chills
  • tiredness/weakness
  • gastric problems
  • difficulty focusing
  • rapid breathing, hyperventilating

It is possible to have both an anxiety and panic attack simultaneously. The quick coping strategies mentioned above may also help with a panic attack.

Try focusing on an object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes, and going to your happy place.

Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Causes of Anxiety

If you notice that quick tips haven’t been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine and physical symptoms. A mental health professional can help with identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.

Living With Anxiety 

If your anxiety stems from a past trauma, it can be helpful to work through those issues with a licensed therapist. On the other hand, if your brain chemistry predisposes you to persistent, chronic anxiety, you may need to go on medication to manage it. Anxiety is likely to continue to be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to take over your life.  Treatment is available to help control those painful symptoms and make those holidays at least tolerable.

The Benefits Of Stretching

The Benefits Of Stretching

Stretching is very beneficial to overall health

The Benefits Of Stretching

By D. S. Mitchell

The benefits of regular stretching are numerous. Stretching is important in the battle to keep us flexible, an important factor to overall fitness. It can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, end back pain, increase range of motion and more.

They Teach It In Schools

When we were kids our PE teachers always insisted we stretch before and after exercise.  I know, stretching, really? Boring!  While most younger folks are limber and flexible enough to jump straight into a game and  skip the cooldown, us older folks can do real damage if we opt to skip the stretching.

In My Case

I recently had a rotator cuff injury that required 12 weeks of Physical Therapy. When I started my visits I was miserable. I literally could only lift my left arm if I lifted it with my right arm. The pain was indescribable.  At the end of my 12 weeks of therapy, I felt great, no pain and had full range of motion. And how did the therapist accomplish that miracle?  She did it with a daily stretching program. That’s right, stretching. The benefits of stretching go way beyond feeling limber on the tennis court, or being able to pick up a penny and not throw your back out. There are both physical and mental benefits to stretching. Read on.

Take A Stretching Break

Frustrated, stymied, taking a break to stretch can help you clear your mind . Stretching releases endorphins and stabilizes hormones, which can improve attitude and mood making you more pleasant to be around and able to approach problems with clear eyes. Regular stretching has been linked to mental balance and  clarity. If you’re in chronic pain, regular stretching is an excellent way to address the issue. It is definitely safer and more effective than opioids.  Stretching helps ease discomfort, and costs nothing.

Little Space And No Equipment

Because of these benefits, I support stretching every morning, right after I get up, and every night just before bed.  However, you can do a few basic stretches any time of day. It requires very little room and no equipment. Instead of  a  cigarette break I take a stretching break.  I’ve even seen people who are trying to quit smoking, replace the cigarette with stretches. A great alternative, I must say.  There are very few things that can be done for free and at any time, but stretching is one of them.  I’m amazed, more people don’t do it.

The Physical Benefits  Of Stretching

Daily stretching can improve your blood flow and make your arteries healthier. Within a couple months of starting a stretching program you could lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and more. If you stay loose and limber, your muscles respond better to stressors-expected and unexpected-that might otherwise result in injury.  Stretching is not a magic elixir, but if you stretch regularly you will according to science feel better and be healthier.

Putting It All Together: Benefits Of Starting A Stretching Routine
  1. Improved Flexibility: Essential to overall health. Improved flexibility allows seniors to perform everyday activities with ease and naturally delays reduced mobility issues, common with aging.
  2. Improved Range Of Motion: The ability to move a joint through its full range gives freedom of movement. Essential for healthy aging.
  3. Improved Performance In Physical Activities: Doing dynamic stretches prior to activities is proven to prepare your muscles for the exercise.  It may also improve your performance in the activity.
  4. Increase Blood Flow To Muscles: Improves your circulation, increased blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
  5. Improved Posture: Poor posture is often the result of muscle imbalances. A combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment, thus improved posture.
  6. Helps Heal And Prevent Back Pain: Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your ROM. When this happens you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the injured muscles. A regular stretching routine can also prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk of muscle strain.
  7. Stress Relief: Stress leads to tense muscles. Muscles tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, primarily the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  8. Calm The Mind: A regular stretching routine can calm the mind. While you stretch focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises. Give your mind a break.
  9. Reduce Tension Headaches: Tension and stress headaches can interfere with activities of daily living. Stretching reduces the tension and anxiety you feel from headaches.
Challenge 

Were you aware that May is National  Physical Fitness and Sports Month?  National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a time to highlight the importance of staying active through sports and other fitness activities. Every day this month, I challenge you to spend time stretching in the morning and then again before bedtime. I guarantee that if you do, you will feel better. And who wouldn’t want that?

*Static Stretches: involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for a period of time, typically 10 to 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise.

*Dynamic Stretches: are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement.

Watch Your Technique

If you are new to a regular stretching routine, take it slow. Your body needs time to get used to the stretches. Check your form and technique regularly, poor technique can lead to injury. You can stretch almost any place at any time. I suggest a program that lasts at least 15 minutes first thing in the morning and 15 minutes just before bedtime.

Focus

When stretching focus on he major areas of your body that help with mobility, such as calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps. For upper-body relief, try stretches of the shoulder, next and lower back.  I suggest you research the best stretches for what you want to accomplish, or better yet consult your physician or physical therapist. There will be recommendations for length of hold and number of repetitions, etc for each stretch.

Here are a few standard safety tips before stretching: 

  1. Do Not Bounce: Experts suggest you avoid bouncing.
  2. Point Of Discomfort: While it is common to feel tension when stretching a muscle you should never feel pain. If an area you are stretching starts to hurt, back off on the stretch until you don’t feel pain.
  3. Do Not Overdo: Stretching puts stress on your body. If you’re stretching the same muscle groups multiple times a day, you risk over-stretching and causing damage.
  4. Don’t Start Stretches Cold: Cold muscles are not as pliable, which makes stretching a lot more difficult. The best time to stretch is after warming up 5-10 minutes with some light cardio or walking.

As with anything, you should check with your primary care physician before you start any exercise program.

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