We live in a stressful world, and the past year has been especially difficult for people all over the world, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’ve been feeling more anxious than usual, you’re definitely not alone! Isolation and loneliness have been taking their toll, along with uncertainty and other stressors.

Lots of people experience anxiety. But it doesn’t have to rule your life! Here’s what you need to know about how anxiety may be affecting your well-being, and what you can do about it.

Physical Impact of Stress and Anxiety

Chronic stress and anxiety do more than affect your mood, focus, and mental well-being. They can also cause a range of physical symptoms. You might get sick more easily, due to a weakened immune system, have trouble sleeping, experience high blood sugar, or develop high blood pressure.

Long-term issues can include cardiovascular problems, due to an elevated heart rate. This can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and hypertension. It’s very important to learn how to manage your anxiety for the sake of your health.

Anxious? Take a Mental Break During Your Workday

Many people find that they are especially stressed out and anxious during their workday. Lots of jobs are extremely high-pressure and require lots of communication throughout the day, whether you’re in the office or working from home. If you find that you often get overwhelmed and anxious at work, remember that it’s okay to take a break!

Mental health breaks can be key for managing anxiety. Something as simple as taking 5 minutes to meditate or practice deep breathing can help. You might also consider getting some fresh air and going for a walk.

If you suffer from anxiety, it’s important to be intentional about your breaks. Many people default to scrolling social media when they get anxious, and usage has gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although social media might feel good in the moment, it won’t do anything to reduce your anxiety and might actually make it worse.

8 Helpful Activities to Help You Manage Your Stress

It’s not always possible to eliminate anxiety, but you can help reduce your stress and increase your well-being by developing stress management strategies. Here are 8 activities you can try when you start feeling anxious or overly stressed.

1. Exercise

Moving your body is a great way to interrupt anxious thoughts and deal with stress in a healthy way. Not only can you boost your mood from exercise, but you’ll take your mind off your triggers. Walking, doing yoga, cycling, swimming—do whatever you enjoy the most!

2. Aromatherapy

Scents can be extremely soothing. You don’t have to become an aromatherapy expert to gain the benefits of essential oils and candles. Just get yourself a diffuser or light a candle and choose scents like lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, and rose to create a calming atmosphere.

3. Journaling

Sometimes, just writing down your feelings can be helpful. Many people find that their anxiety is triggered by small things, and they can’t always figure out what is causing the problem. By journaling or taking the time to write about your feelings, you may be able to let go of some of your stress and anxiety.

4. Goal-setting

Many people get stressed and anxious when they feel behind or overwhelmed. If you’re prone to procrastinating or you feel like you have too much on your plate, it might be time to rethink your systems and set goals. Goal-setting can help you break down your responsibilities into smaller chunks and make them less overwhelming.

5. Listen to Music

Do you love music? Why not use it as a relaxation tool? Putting something soothing on can interrupt your anxious thoughts and help you feel calmer.

6. Meditate

Regular meditation can work wonders for people struggling with anxiety and chronic stress. Even just a few minutes a day can help. Not sure how to start? Try a guided meditation app and just go for it!

7. Socialize

Sometimes, family and friends are the best medicine. Whether you need to talk things out or talk about anything BUT your anxiety, socializing with your nearest and dearest can make a big difference.

8. Clean something

Many people find cleaning to be a soothing activity that breaks them out of the loop of anxious thoughts. There’s just something calming and satisfying about getting your home sparkling clean!

Find What Works for You

There are so many great options for managing stress and anxiety. You just need to find out what works best for you! Everyone is different, so don’t worry if some of these suggestions don’t help you feel more relaxed. These 8 are a great place to start, but there are lots of other activities that can help as well. Anxiety can disrupt your life and make it difficult to relax. If you’re struggling to manage your stress and anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek help from an experienced mental health professional. You don’t have to suffer!