Do you ever get stressed or anxious? If so, you’re not alone. Figuring out how to manage overwhelming feelings can be a challenge for many of us, especially in a world that feels more hectic than ever.
But thankfully, various effective practices can help with stress and anxiety. Here are three of them:
1. Manage Stress and Anxiety by Immersing Yourself in Soothing Scents
Have you ever sniffed a certain aroma — such as pumpkin pie or pine trees — and felt calmer and happier straight away? The experience proves that scent can have a powerful effect on mood.
But what’s the science behind it all? In essence, certain scents cause your olfactory senses to send a signal to your brain telling it to relax. Some of these calming scents can be personal to us and might be linked to specific emotions or memories (for instance, the smell of those cheap paints you loved to get messy with at elementary school).
Yet other scents have almost universally soothing effects. Chamomile eases anxiety, lavender helps with sleep, clary sage is comforting, and sandalwood can carry us into a more contemplative state.
But if you don’t happen to have a lavender field conveniently near you, all is not lost. Instead, you can immerse yourself in relaxing scents by investing in a few key accessories such as scent diffusers, reed diffuser sticks or scented room sprays. Or you can even daub a little bit of diluted essential oil onto pulse points such as your wrist and neck.
(Take note to dilute the essential oils with carrier oils before applying it to your skin. Recommended to do a patch test first.)
It’s worth bearing in mind that stress and anxiety can affect your concentration. This means you might also benefit from scents that help you focus, such as agarwood, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, or rosemary.
As mentioned, smell is a very personal thing so if you want to manage stress and anxiety, it’s all about finding the best healing aromas for you. Why not have fun experimenting with relaxing blends, for example, by mixing drops of different essential oils into a diffuser? Eventually, you’ll get to know what creates the right mood for you.
2. Give Journaling a Go
Something about pen meeting paper is cathartic — getting stuff down on the page is a powerful way to release pent-up emotions and stress. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a writer to feel this way — far from it. In fact, this practice can benefit anyone who wants to manage anxiety better.
Why? Because keeping a journal is a useful way to make sense of confusing or conflicting thoughts and feelings. We experience times when we don’t know how we feel about a situation — or why we feel it — until it’s written down. That is why daily journaling is such a powerful well-being tool.
That said, this stress-busting tip comes with one big caveat — don’t try to make your journaling perfect. Because it’s actually better if it’s kind of a mess.
In other words, you’re not trying to write a great literary work or timeless memoir. And you’re not trying to create a ‘pretty’ sort of journal, where you record carefully curated memories on perfumed pages with a calligraphy pen. Instead, the aim is to write three honest and raw stream-of-consciousness pages per day, without censoring any of it — or going back to correct what you’ve written.
Why? Because this is the only way to get at the truth of how you really feel. After all, your journal is for you and you alone, and no one else will ever get to see it (so keep it under lock and key). And by spilling all those messy emotions onto the page, you can start to make sense of them and accept them. Then, in time, you can work out what steps you need to take to make things better.
3. Make Room for Creativity
Whether you consider yourself to be artistic or not, self-expression can be a fantastic way to manage stress and anxiety. You don’t need to be Picasso — it’s about immersing yourself in a stimulating activity for an hour or two.
Start by picking a creative hobby that you’d like to try, such as coloring, stenciling, cake decorating, playing the trombone, writing haiku, tap dancing, dressmaking, sculpting, knitting or crafting dollhouse furniture. Then set aside a little time (once a week, say) to enjoy it.
By giving yourself the space to get your creative juices going, you will be opening yourself up to what is known as the ‘flow state.’ And this can be significant for your mental health, as well as for managing stress and anxiety.
But what is meant by ‘flow state?’ Otherwise known as ‘being in the zone,’ it’s that mental space you go into when you’re fully immersed in an activity in an energized way. More specifically, it’s the state of being so deeply focused on something that you lose track of time and where hours pass in what feels like minutes.
And it’s very beneficial to your well-being. That’s because, during flow state, your brain releases various hormones that boost your mood and create a sense of calm, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.
Yet there are other reasons to take up a creative hobby. It can give you deeper insights into yourself, boost your self-esteem and even bring new friends into your life. And by expressing yourself with art, music or movement — or whatever you choose — you will be releasing pent-up stress and anxiety as well.
So isn’t it time to book that pottery class or dust off that old guitar in the attic?
Prioritize Your Well-Being — It Pays Off
Stress and anxiety can affect us all at times, but by exploring solutions such as journaling, being creative or harnessing the power of soothing scents, you might find that they impact you less.
In short, introducing positive and healing practices into your life can help you to access a sense of calm more easily — and feel more in command when faced with life’s challenges.