Tips for Coping with Stress and Anxiety

As we mentioned in our last blog post, a primary care physician works to treat the whole patient, including their physical, emotional, and mental health. In fact, oftentimes, physical symptoms — like a racing heart or trouble catching your breath — are the result of emotional or mental struggles, like stress and anxiety. 

Unfortunately, being in a constant state of hyperarousal caused by worry or fear takes a negative toll. Studies link chronic stress to an increased risk of depression, heart disease, stroke, weight gain, and memory loss. Do you experience poor sleep, regular headaches, obsessive thinking,  irritability, and/or difficulty concentrating? If so, it’s time to talk to your primary care physician about ways to manage your stress and anxiety. 

With that thought in mind, let’s look at five tips for coping with stress and anxiety.

1. Practice self-care.

First and foremost, you have to take care of yourself! No matter how busy you are, build in time to exercise, journal, read, and paint — whatever makes you happy! If you work from home and find yourself spending your days in your pajamas, make an effort to get dressed and meet a friend for coffee or lunch. These simple adjustments can make a big difference in your anxiety.

2. Pay attention to your consumption of daily news.

We live in a time when happenings from all around the world are literally at your fingertips. While it’s natural to want to stay up-to-date, consider tracking the amount of time you spend reading or watching the news and your stress levels. If you notice your anxiety spiking as a result of the news, cut back and limit yourself to 15 or 20 minutes per day. You should also turn off news notifications so that you’re controlling when you see those headlines. 

3. Get outside!

It’s no secret that being outdoors makes you feel happy and relaxed, but it actually does even more than that. Did you know that a walk around the block or a few minutes spent reading outside actually resets your nervous system? Studies show that nature is both calming and healing. It forces you to unplug and actually helps you fight stress and rising levels of cortisol better than if you were to stay indoors.

4. Spend time with your friends and family.

We all need human connection. Make an effort to regularly call or FaceTime loved ones who live far away. Meet your sister or best friend for a glass of wine after a busy week. Most importantly, always ask for help when you need it. Confiding in your support system can make all the difference when it comes to facing your fears and worries. 

5. Practice mindfulness.

Many people feel intimidated by the thought of meditating or doing mindfulness exercises — but it shouldn’t be scary! There are several apps, like Calm or Headspace, that walk you through exercises beginning at just one minute. Practicing simple skills, like deep breathing or repeating mantras, will help you more easily access them in times of stress and anxiety. Build mindfulness into your daily routine by doing it at the same time each day, like first thing in the morning or right before bed.

Contact Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.