Managing stress and anxiety at work and in everyday life

In a world where the pace only seems to be getting faster and you can’t turn on the TV without running into more negative news, managing stress and anxiety for many of us almost feels like a full-time job. Then, when you throw on top of that all the burdens that come along with our actual work, you can quickly find yourself in a spiral that can feel almost impossible to get out of.

Luckily, there are some practical steps you can take on a regular basis to help alleviate the weight of everyday life and give yourself a fresh outlook. Some of these tips can appear so simple that they’re easy to overlook while others may take some dedication and planning to work into your routine. Either way, their effectiveness can’t be denied and they might just give you the foothold you’ve been searching for.

Prioritise Exercise

Far beyond physical looks and vanity, regular exercise can have a profound impact on your mental health. For many of our clients, a consistent routine of movement and fitness allows their minds to switch off while also boosting their endorphins and leaving them feeling fresh and ready to take on the day.

Before jumping in haphazardly at the gym and throwing around some weights, you can give yourself a head start by taking a few things into account.

We recommend you always consult your doctor before starting any new fitness schedule to provide the best chance of avoiding injuries and doing any physical damage. On top of this, it’s a good idea to have some tangible goals and to choose a form of activity that you actually enjoy whether that’s strength training, cardio, yoga or even just going for a gentle walk around the block. Exercise alone can have a profound impact on a variety of areas of your life from sleep to mood and concentration making this an absolute pillar for an all-round healthy lifestyle.

Make time for friends and socialising

A packed schedule, overlapping meetings and an endless list of commitments that seems insurmountable - sound familiar? Being busy is sometimes an unavoidable part of modern life but this shouldn’t come at the expense of your personal relationships and having a rewarding social life.

It’s important to make the effort to carve out time in your diary for catching up with friends and family. Similarly to exercise, strong relationships and energising conversations can release endorphins and also provide a perspective that is easy to lose sight of in the daily grind. When it comes to socialising, start small with a phone call or a weekly catch-up with a colleague outside of the workplace. Having manageable, pre-booked meet-ups will help you stick to them and will mean you are less likely to cancel when you’re in the midst of a busy day.

Indulge in your hobbies and passions

While it might not seem like it at times, you have a life outside of work and the family and it’s a good idea to ‘indulge’ that side of you every once and a while. Whether that’s a love for a certain sport, a passion for culture or a fascination with food, pursuing your hobbies and interests will give you a break from the routine.

Why not try joining a club or a social sports team? Depending on the activity, this could help boost your weekly exercise or at the very least it will get you out of the home or office and back to doing something you love. Furthermore, certain hobbies can be challenging and incredibly rewarding which can give you a real sense of accomplishment that may be missing from other areas of your life.

You are what you eat

Much like exercise, the importance of diet is often solely linked to the physical benefits but the true impacts can be life-changing. There have been countless studies that have highlighted the effects of diet on overall mental health with results showing a strong link between healthy eating habits and reduced negative wellness outcomes.

Overall, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes has been associated with a reduced risk of depression and omega-3 has also been shown to improve mental health. Keeping your intake of alcohol and caffeine low may also be a good strategy to help avoid exaggerating symptoms of stress and anxiety that you may already be experiencing.

To truly understand how your diet could be negatively affecting your mental well-being, we suggest consulting your doctor or a nutritionist to start the process of creating a tailored solution for your needs. Nutrition is a multifaceted field and getting a better understanding of what works for you can help put you on the right path.

Focus on your breath

During times of peak stress, like a work meeting or when the kids are having a tantrum, it’s easy to get so caught up in the moment that we forget the most simple thing - to breathe. Slowing your breathing and taking deep breaths from your stomach is a great way to signal your nervous system to calm down.

Once you start being more aware of your breath, you may find in times of extreme stress you’re breathing very fast and shallow or sometimes not even breathing at all. By lengthening your exhale and breathing from your abdomen, you will naturally start to calm down, your heart rate will decrease and you will feel more calm. This is a powerful tool that can be used in almost all situations without drawing attention to yourself. Give it a try when you’re in the car and stuck in traffic, when the kids have launched into yet another argument or when you’re sitting at your desk and the emails keep piling up.

Put the phone away

When all around us feels like chaos, it can be very tempting to pick up the phone, scroll Facebook and zone out. While occasional time spent on social media can actually be enjoyable and even rewarding, when it’s stopping you from being present and negatively impacting your relationships, it might be time to put the phone away.

There’s no doubt about it, switching off can be easier said than done particularly when many of us work from our phones and use them to run our daily lives.

If you feel like your phone might be taking you away from those you love, there are some simple things you can try. A good idea is turning off the work phone when you leave the office but if that seems like a step too far, you can add things like screen time reminders, removing certain apps from your phone and only using them on the computer or simply leaving devices out of the bedroom altogether.

Get serious about your sleep

The impacts of sleep on your anxiety, stress and mental health are a two-way street with one often feeding off another. Poor sleep patterns and routines can contribute to negative mental health outcomes and by the same token, negative mental health can contribute to a poor quality of sleep. This can be a dangerous cycle that can be difficult to combat without a holistic, personalised approach.

Many of the tips highlighted in this article will, if effectively implemented, likely lead to improved sleep, particularly lifestyle factors around diet, exercise and decreased screen time. Specific sleep disorders, including insomnia, and chronic sleep problems are relatively common and may need specific treatments to help you get a good night’s rest.

Take stock of your lifestyle and behavioural patterns

Sometimes it’s easy to look outward and point fingers at all the things impacting our mental health and ability to deal with stress but when was the last time you critically analysed the choices you are making on a daily basis? Taking an honest look at your lifestyle and identifying potential negative choices is a huge step towards making real change.

Ask yourself, how much alcohol am I really consuming throughout the week? Are there negative people in my life that I should potentially move on from? Is the career I’m in filling me with passion and giving me a sense of purpose? Is there past trauma that I haven’t properly addressed or am brushing under the rug? While tough, all these questions are important to address and consider.

If you identify some areas to work on, try tackling one area of your life at a time and implementing real change before moving on to the next aspect. This will help keep you focused and goal-oriented without feeling overwhelmed.

Surround yourself with professionals

For some of you, particularly those who have dealt with stress and anxiety for years, these key tips may seem obvious. You likely have even tried many of them previously or may be striving to implement these changes right now. If you are finding yourself in this situation and life feels like it’s on a constant loop, perhaps it’s time to surround yourself with professionals.

Noosa Confidential is Australia’s leading residential retreat with a hand-picked team of experts who are dedicated to helping you make real change, today. We have tailored programs aimed at improving your quality of life through a variety of areas including PTSD, trauma, grief, mental health and comfort seeking behaviour like addiction and substance abuse.

Our team is made up of doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, personal trainers and therapists who are on hand to ensure you feel safe, supported and driven to succeed. We have created a nurturing, non-clinical setting with 24hr-per-day support right here in Noosa with easy links to Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast Airport and beyond.

Our focus is on security and confidentiality throughout all our individualised programs with support starting from the moment you reach out. This may be the next step needed in your recovery journey and we’re here to help.