Coping mechanism for stress and anxiety

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Q. How can I reduce stress and anxiety without seeking external help?– Daya Naveen

A. Dear Daya,

Stress and Anxiety are emotional responses that are slightly different from each other. Stress can be defined as a state of worry caused by a difficult situation. Anxiety on the other hand is a feeling of uneasiness that comes from the anticipation of danger.

Stress is typically caused by a stressor (trigger) and is short-term i.e., goes away with the situation. E.g., exam stress goes away after the exams are over.

Anxiety on the other hand can be persistent (doesn’t go away in the absence of a trigger, many a time there is no trigger). E.g., getting anxious about the exams and results even after the exam is over and the result is out.

Here are a few coping strategies.

1. Journal (this is my favorite tool) – Write down your thoughts and emotions. This will help you prioritize your problems, point out the stressors, and keep track of your symptoms.

2. Acknowledge and accept your emotions and symptoms.

3. Break the circuit – Try to eliminate the stressor (trigger), divert your thoughts, and try to think laterally.

4. Exercise, get nutrition, and sleep – Taking care of these three prevents a lot of problems. Studies have shown that moderate physical exercises, balanced nutrition, and quality sleep reduce stress and anxiety.

5. Relaxation exercise to relax your body and mind, which will automatically control negative thoughts. Try progressive muscle relaxation.

6. Meditation and Breathing exercises to slow racing thoughts. Experts recommend deep breathing, box breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing.

7. Avoid multitasking to avoid distractions. Learn to say no.

8. Limit screen hours. Studies have proved the correlation between screen time and poor mental health.

9. Get social support – Spend quality time with family and friends.

10. Spend time in nature – Community farming, gardening, nature trails, and treks, playing with pets help you get over your state to a large extent.

11. Aromatherapy and herbal teas will also help you in reducing your stress and anxiety.

Please remember, these strategies will help you prevent as well as reduce stress and

anxiety. However, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if the symptoms persist for a longer duration.

-Dr. Aabha Pimprikar is a Life Skills Trainer, and Founder and President, of DAGMHI 3030 (Mental Health Initiative to Promote Mental Health Awareness)

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