10 Simple Ways to De-stress & Reduce Anxiety - Fast
We’re regularly told the value of looking after our physical wellbeing. So, we dutifully hit our favourite spin class, sip on our post-workout smoothies and try our best to get a good night’s sleep. But often, we forget to apply this same dedication to our mental health.
Sweaty palms, a racing heart and the idea that you're constantly running on a hamster wheel are all physical signs of stress and anxiety that too many of us experience on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Which is why it’s so important to implement simple, daily practices to help you relax and enjoy life, whilst fitting into your busy schedule. We've include some easy and unusual ways to tackle tension so you can start feeling good quickly.
1. Get Moving to get rid stress hormones
Regular exercise has numerous benefits for your body, and relaxation is one of them. The notion of ‘sweating out’ your frustrations really does work for reducing Cortisol hormones and anxious thoughts, as spending an hour of your day focusing on a physical challenge allows you to gain some headspace whilst stimulating endorphin production, known to brighten your mood.
But make sure to move in a way that suits your state of mind. If you’re feeling seriously overwhelmed, an intense class is only going to fill your body with more adrenaline. Try going for a gentle jog or booking into a yoga class instead. Research shows that even walking can be a great way to relieve your worries.
Or, just go for a walk in the fresh air. Getting outside comes with its own mental benefits and walking offers an opportunity to stretch your legs and calm your brain whilst you enjoy your favourite podcast. In our opinion, it’s incredibly underrated!
2. Self Care: Learn to Say No
Often, our anxiety or guilty feelings is simply a result of over-committing. It’s important to set personal boundaries and to say no to things that offer you no joy or benefit so you can focus on yourself. Self-care is so much more than a Sunday night bubble bath.
Turn off your phone - or at least your emails - during certain times of the day so you can be present, such as in the evenings after work. This is especially important during the pandemic when the lines between work and home life are blurred (a wellness study shows that stressed out Brits are losing more than two hours' sleep from pandemic-caused anxiety).
Many of us are hard-wired to be people pleasers, so it can be hard to master the skill of putting yourself first. But once you do, the rewards are endless!
3. Feed the body with Feel good food
When you're anxious and overly busy, it’s easy to turn to quick, convenient and low nutrient foods that might seem like the easy option, but in reality, only perpetuate your low or anxious mood. Just like any other organ, the brain also requires amino acids, complex carbohydrates, essential fats and a range of vitamins and minerals to keep healthy.
In fact, some studies – like the SMILES trial  - have looked at dietary changes and their impact on depression and other mental health indicators, such as stress vs anxiety, with positive perspectives; whilst data from the Canadian Community Survey - have suggested a correlation between the improvement of diet (and specific food groups, such as consumption of fruits and vegetables) and the prevention of mood disorders as well.
As with anything, the best diet for you should be based on your individual needs, but focusing on eating regular, balanced meals that contain a varied range of whole foods is key. How about starting your day with a nutrient rich spinach, banana and almond milk smoothie, adding in chia seeds or a handful of walnuts (or a supplement rich in mood-modulating benefits suggested of Omega-3’s), and CBD oil.
Getting some extra nutrition could help you power through your morning feeling calm and in control.
4. Get Organised to focus the mind
We’re firm believers that an unorganised brain is a stressed brain. “What time’s that appointment again?”, “Did I tell so and so to meet me here or here?”, “Is that tonight?!”; it’s unsurprising this leaves us flustered and unable to focus properly.
Take some time on a Sunday evening to plan out your week and try to keep a well organised diary meetings, appointments and social engagements. This is a helpful way for you to know realistically what else you can commit to. Be careful not to fill your schedule to the brim – you’re not a superhero!
5. Write It Down to Reduce Stress Before Bed
It's the question on everyone's minds: How do I relax before bed? One of the simplest ways to do this - we've found - is journalling. Getting your thoughts down on paper can help you to work through your worries and figure out the reasons for why you’re feeling a certain way.
It offers a great sense of perspective and can help you to drag nagging worries out from the whirlpool of thoughts inside your brain and switch off. After all, many of our worries stem from irrational thoughts, but it’s hard to realise this until it’s staring you in the face.
6. Do Something Fun to Relax
Sometimes we all take life a little too seriously. It’s important to switch out of serious work mode on a regular basis to go out and have some fun.
Whether that’s spending time with a friend or skipping the anxiety-riddled evening news to watch a comedy show instead - laughter truly is the best medicine as it boosts feel good endorphins that can be truly healing for the body. In fact, this is one of the easiest ways to avoid stress hormones flooding the body.
7. Swap Coffee for Herbal Tea
Although many of us rely on coffee to wake us up and power us through back to back meetings or a never-ending to do list, your daily flat white habit might be doing you more harm than good. If you’ve ever experienced jitters, a racing heart, headaches or a lack of focus after drinking too much coffee, it won’t be a surprise.
In fact, a review by Stefan G Hofmann et al. showed a strong correlation between high caffeine intake and increased feelings of insomnia and anxiety. So, if you’re particularly agitated or stressed, try to reach for a herbal tea or decaffeinated beverage instead.
8. Talk To Someone
Cliché it might be, but there’s truth in the saying; a problem shared is a problem halved! It’s important not to shy away from talking about your mental health concerns with someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, partner or even a professional. They’ll likely be able to help you figure out a solution, or at the very least offer a safe space for you to get your worries off your chest, allowing you to feel less alone.
If your symptoms of stress are becoming too difficult to manage, we recommend speaking to a professional for advice. Or, check out the NHS-recommended charity, Mind, for a vast array of online resources & in-person support services across the UK.
9. Prioritise Giving Back
It might sound counterintuitive to give up some of your precious time when you’re already stressed-out but doing something – no matter how small – to help someone else can help to put your own problems into perspective.
Whether that’s volunteering at your local community project or even just helping your Grandma with her shopping. An article by leading UK mental health charity, SANE, suggests a whole host of benefits, from increasing social interactions, to providing a sense of purpose and achievement.
10. Practice Mindfulness to relax the brain
Synonymous with meditation, the idea of mindfulness – the practice of training your brain to be in the present moment - can be intimidating to some. But it doesn’t have to involve ‘ommm-ing’ in a dark room with a bunch of strangers (unless you enjoy that!). Mindfulness can encapsulate a whole host of different activities that are both enjoyable and allow your mind to clear.
Some of the simplest ways to unwind and help to relax your brain include drawing, cooking, getting lost in a good book, or even listening to music and taking a few deep breaths. With vast and impressive benefits including improved sleep and decreased symptoms of anxiousness, it’s sure to be worth dedicating just 10-20 minutes of your day to your mindful practice of choice to help you switch off when you need it most.
It's really as simple as that
Rest assured that there are many ways to reduce stress and anxiety when you're under pressure and life is getting too much. Our mental wellbeing is as important, if not more so, than our physical health.
But luckily many of these relaxing techniques are simple and you don't need to have any fancy equipment or spend a fortune on a fancy spa break to do it.
Just ensure you're getting enough quality sleep (try this award-winning natural sleep aid if you need a little help unwinding before bed), eat well and get regular exercise and let your body do the rest. After all, when your body feels good, your mind does too.
 A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the 'SMILES' trial). Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Opie R et al. BMC Med (2017): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28137247
 The association between fruit and vegetable consumption and mental health disorders: Evidence from five waves of a national survey of Canadians. Seanna E McMartine, Fdelice N Jacka, Ian Colman. (2013) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.12.016
 “Cognitive enhancers.” Hofmann, Stefan G et al. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behaviour vol. 99,2 (2011): 275-84. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2010.11.020