Whether you struggle with chronic anxiety or not I think we can all still use help in managing our stress. I love reading suggestions on how other people manage theirs because what works for some people won't work for others and getting new ideas is always helpful. I tried to compile a full list of the ways I manage mine below.
Journaling - This one will come as no surprise considering I created The Postpartum Journal, but it's true. You can read more on my experience with journaling here. Whether journaling is your thing or not I think what matters is that you are getting your thoughts and feelings out there somehow, whether it's through talking, writing, recording, or whatever.
Meditation - It took me a while to get into meditation. For years I heard people talk about it and I was always convinced there was no way I could do it. My mind was too full and scattered and I wouldn't be disciplined enough to sit still or be quiet. It was in therapy that I first started meditating and it turns out everything I thought about it wasn't really true. I'm not an expert in any way but I have been practicing for over three years now and I have really grown to love those times I set aside to sit still and focus on my body. I am addicted to the Headspace app. You do have to pay for it but you can get a free one month trial if you want to try it out first.
Nature - This one is huge for me, I love being outside. I make it a point to get outside every day even in the winter. We live in the city, which is fine but being in the woods (hiking, being by the water) is what I really crave, where I feel the most at peace. All of the really good hiking is a bit of a drive from Charlotte but there are a few nature preserves close which is where I go when I need a walk in the woods. We really prioritize time spent in nature as a family, so we go every weekend to hike and walk around. It's not always easy to find the time but we do whatever we have to because, without it, I can really tell a difference in all of our moods.
Exercise - So, I'll be real on this one. I don't exercise near as much as I want to or as much as I feel I should. I go on a walk every day with our dog and the kids, but I used to work out a lot more. My rheumatoid arthritis flared badly after each of my births, and the pain in my small joints made intense exercise challenging, but it has also shown me just how important my walks are, even if it seems too small to matter. It doesn't matter if my feet hurt. I get up and go, and I always feel better after.
Breathe - I feel like this one makes people roll their eyes, but it's true! If I am in the midst of an anxiety flare up, I don't always have the brain capacity to stop myself and do my breaths. When I do it always helps. Just three big deep breaths, with my eyes closed, gives me enough pause to recollect myself.
Essential Oils - Major disclaimer on this one, I am not one of those people who knows everything about how essential oils work. I would love to get more into them but for now, when I need to know how to use one I text my bff, Jessica. She sells oils and knows all the things. I use oils mostly to make my house smell good, but there is no denying the effects diffusing lavender and Stress Away have on me. The Stress Away blend is from Young Living, and I'm obsessed with it. I love diffusing it right next to me when I work.
Read - Reading is my ultimate hobby, and it has been my whole life. I make time to read several times a week. I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction so that I feel like I'm getting a good dose of education in there too, but if I'm having a lot of stressful days, I don't always hold myself to that. If I want to read a good fiction book and turn my brain off for a bit, I do it.
Binge TV - Or as some people say 'Netflix and Chill.' This is another one of those turn-off-your-brain-and-veg-out kinds of things. On those horrible days where you just want to quit thinking, after the kids are in bed, crawl under the covers and turn something binge-worthy on the iPad.
Music - Music is huge for me. It can have such an effect on my mood. I have different playlists titled for different emotions - chill, joy, and one that's just called 'mood' haha. When I'm looking for something to calm me, I always turn to my classical playlist. A couple of artists I love are Chad Lawson and Joep Beving.
Take a Bath - I am a bath addict. I take one several times a week. Get some bath salts or soak (I love the milk bath from Herbivore), light a candle, read or sip some wine.
Rubberband Snap - You are probably really confused right now, but yes you read that right! When I know in advance that I am going to be in a stressful situation, or even a new exciting situation (but one that will make me nervous), I wear a rubber band on my wrist. If I start to feel my nerves getting the better of me, I will snap the rubber band. It might sound extreme, but for me, it works. I got the idea from the show Bones a long time ago. A character used that technique for anger, and I was curious to see if it would help my anxiety. It sounds weird I know!
SOS Text or Call - Sometimes what helps me more than anything is sending a quick text to a friend to say that I'm not my best self that day or I'm just grumpy, and I don't know why. Having friends that I can send those texts to make all the difference.