If there were a single condition that caused headaches, stomach pain and pressure in your chest, you would definitely take it seriously. Well, there actually is, and it's a condition that most people experience frequently, if not every day: stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can have a serious negative impact on our mental and physical health. Here are 10 quick and easy ways to help yourself feel calmer:
Physical activity is one of the fastest ways to lower your stress levels. When you're feeling anxious, your body sometimes misinterpret that anxiety as danger and trigger your fight or flight instinct. If you don't do anything with this energy, it can leave you feeling jittery and overwhelmed. Working out burns that energy and can basically trick your brain into feeling safe again.
2. Go outside
Fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for helping you put things into perspective. Even if it's cold or rainy outside, you can still benefit from taking a quick walk (assuming you wear the appropriate clothes to stay warm and dry).
3. Read a book
When you read a book, you can get out of your own head. This prevents you from cycling through the same stress-inducing thoughts over and over again. Settle down with your favourite book to immerse yourself in a different world for a little while.
Another way to deal with stressful thoughts is to get them out of your head and onto paper. Journaling can help you work through the worries you're feeling, as well as come up with ideas for how to move forward. Even if you all you do is write down how you're feeling, the stresses and worries usually look a lot easier to handle on paper.
5. Take a bath
Warm water and soothing scents can help relax your mind and body. This can be particularly useful if your body is stressed as well, either from hard physical activity or from tensing your muscles while anxious.
Artistic expression is a great way to work through difficult emotions. If you're not already an artist, you might be rolling your eyes at the thought of this, but even the artistically challenged can benefit from absent-minded doodling. Like reading, this gives you the chance to focus on something else for a while. If you're really not interested in drawing, adult colouring books can be a fun way to unplug.
7. Listen to music
Putting on some headphones and jamming out to your favourite tunes can help you release unpleasant energy. Pick fast-paced music if you want to work through something, and slow, calming music if you're just looking to relax.
8. Drink water
Most people don't drink enough water during the day, and the physical effects of dehydration can make you even more stressed out than you would have been otherwise. Sipping cool water while you're stressed will not only help you make sure you've got enough H2O, it can also help calm your nerves in the moment.
If you're really stressed out and you don't have any other kind of outlet, breathing exercises can help you get a handle on your situation. Here's a simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere, anytime: Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath; breathe out for four counts, hold your breath; repeat.
10. Call a friend
Finally, socialization can play a huge role in how stressed you feel. One of the worst things about stress is that it's isolating - you can start to feel like you're the only one who can't handle what's going on sometimes. The reality is, everyone experiences anxiety once in a while. Reaching out to a friend will help you see that you're not alone, and that you'll get through this.