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Stress Management Toolkit

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Man and Team Working At Laptops

It’s 2019 and life is stressful for busy professionals. We all encounter different types of stress on various occasions, and many of us are juggling multiple types at the same time.

This Toolkit is meant as a starter guide to help you with specific stress management techniques that are effective for different forms of stress. It is by no means a comprehensive treatment on the topic of stress, anxiety, depression, or unstable moods.

There are a wealth of resources available on stress, anxiety and depression. We have included our favorites among each section. If you are interested in more reading on specific conditions, the books included here are highly recommended to dive deeper into topics that might benefit you individually.

In this Toolkit, we have included 20 Stress Management Techniques. Incidentally, Stress Management techniques are related to High Achiever strategies – because when you can manage stress effectively, you perform better in every area of your life.

Of course, you’re welcome to simply read through them all. But if you are interested in managing specific types of stress, use the techniques as more of a reference guide to find what works in your specific situation.

To begin, here are 5 Types of Stress that we frequently encounter in life.

Stress Type 1: A Sudden, Unexpected Event

Examples: A car accident, a break-up or divorce, losing one’s job, death of family or friend

Car Accident Man and Woman Exchange Info

This type of stress is unexpected (either in whole or in part) and typically comes on immediately. It could be dealt with in as little as one day, or it could take weeks or months. Regardless, it is considered Acute Stress because it accompanies some specific event that has a beginning and an end.

This type of stress is likely to leave us feeling panicky, helpless, and wrought with severe grief, severe anxiety, or both. Much of our extraneous life tends to shut down when we are going through this type of stress. All our mind’s focus is on processing it.

Techniques most effective at dealing with Type of Stress (the techniques are described in detail below):

#1: Perceive reality effectively
#7: Focus on solutions over victimhood
#8: Find humor in hard situations
#9: Exercise creative and learning
#10: Move focus from mind to body
#11: Be concerned for the welfare of others and humanity
#12: Foster a deep appreciation for basic life events
#13: Have deep satisfying relationships with a few people
#17: Maintain strong moral/ethical standards
#18: Take care of basic hygiene
#19: Eat and drink well
#20: Exercise daily

Stress Type 2: A Chronic Situation

Examples: A toxic job, boss or coworkers, an illness, a strained relationship, strained finances, toxic politics

A Toxic Workplace Environment with Office Gossip

This type of stress is the antithesis of Acute Stress. It is something that creeps in over days, weeks or months. It may have had a discernable beginning but it has no discernable end. Typically this involves some level of toxicity associated with a situation that we find difficult to extricate ourselves from for various reasons – a physical environment, financial or emotional ties.

Techniques most effective at dealing with Type of Stress (the techniques are described in detail below):

#1: Perceive reality effectively
#4: Accept others for who they are
#5: Accept a situation for what it is
#7: Focus on solutions over victimhood
#8: Find humor in hard situations
#9: Exercise creativity and learning
#11: Be concerned for the welfare of others and humanity
#12: Foster a deep appreciation for basic life events
#13: Have deep satisfying relationships with a few people
#14: Understand your values well
#15: Enforce boundaries consistently
#16: Know when and how to unplug
#17: Maintain strong moral/ethical standards
#19: Eat and drink well
#20: Exercise daily

Stress Type 3: Modern Stressors

Covered in our article Modern Causes of Stress. They are summarized as: Diversity, Perfection, Expectations, Busyness, and Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices.

Teenage Girl Surfing Social Media and Unhappy

These Modern Stressors are discussed in more length in our article Modern Causes of Stress. They are caused primarily by our current modern society: Too much technology, too much information, too much of a melting pot of people and ideas, and industrialized (“Western”) food – that is, food we eat that is grown and/or cooked by large corporations.

Techniques most effective at dealing with Type of Stress (the techniques are described in detail below):

#1: Perceive reality effectively
#3: Accept yourself for what you are – and aren’t
#6: Limit comparison to others
#12: Foster a deep appreciation for basic life events
#13: Have deep satisfying relationships with a few people
#14: Understand your values well
#15: Enforce boundaries consistently
#16: Know when and how to unplug
#17: Maintain strong moral/ethical standards
#19: Eat and drink well
#20: Exercise daily

Stress Type 4: Past Unresolved Issues

Examples: An abusive childhood or past relationship, bad experiences of any type that left lasting hurt and pain that you continue to impact you to this day.

Child Neglect Issues From Our Past Impacting Us as Adults

This type of stress is a relic of our past – a memory or experience deeply embedded in our minds that we simply have not been able to heal from. Either we have pushed it away and it has festered, or we have been through rounds of grieving or therapy but it is still there. Either way, the healing is not yet complete.

These issues from our past can cause stress through any number of negative emotions, but the most common is Shame. Shame can be really insidious. Shame is our brain convincing us that we are bad people. Shame loves hiding in the dark. It doesn’t like when we own our stories and bring our experiences into the light. Unchecked, shame can lead to low self esteem, depression, feelings of helplessness or worthlessness, and poor performance in every area of our life. Shame is a very common driving force behind both suicide, and violent acting-out.

Techniques most effective at dealing with Type of Stress (the techniques are described in detail below):

#1: Perceive reality effectively
#5: Accept a situation for what it is
#7: Focus on solutions over victimhood
#9: Exercise creativity and learning
#11: Be concerned for the welfare of others and humanity
#12: Foster a deep appreciation for basic life events
#13: Have deep satisfying relationships with a few people
#14: Understand your values well
#15: Enforce boundaries consistently
#16: Know when and how to unplug (particularly to journal and process feelings as necessary)
#18: Take care of basic hygiene
#19: Eat and drink well
#20: Exercise daily

Stress Type 5: Anxiety over the Future

Examples: Worrying about performance on a new job or a big presentation. Worrying that your wedding or other important event will go well. Worrying whether a new relationship will work out. Fear of losing your job or home, or not being able to pay bills. Feeling overwhelmed and panicky with the amount of items to do in a given day or week.

Man Giving Presentation to a Large Audience

Anxiety is a panicky form of stress. Unlike Type 4 where we are experiencing the emotional ripples of events already passed, anxiety is worry that some bad thing will happen in the future. Anxiety is particularly difficult to grapple with because we are worried about a reality that has not even come to pass.

It’s important to note that some amount of anxiety can be healthy. A mild amount of anxiety can cause us to strive to do the best we can. But for a lot of people, anxiety overtakes their mind and fills many of their waking thoughts.

You probably realize at some level that living in perpetual fear is no way to be happy. One of the best methods to start retraining your brain from anxiety is to stay focused in the present moment as much as you possibly can, and not let your brain wander to a potentially negative future. Here are some additional ways to cope.

Techniques most effective at dealing with Type of Stress (the techniques are described in detail below):

#1: Perceive reality effectively
#2: Tolerate uncertainty with grace
#6: Limit comparison to others
#8: Find humor in hard situations
#10: Move focus from mind to body
#11: Be concerned for the welfare of others and humanity
#14: Understand your values well
#16: Know when and how to unplug
#17: Maintain strong moral/ethical standards
#18: Take care of basic hygiene
#19: Eat and drink well
#20: Exercise daily

The 6th Type: Experiencing Abuse

We’ve saved this type of stress for last because it is a special topic that deserves far more than this site can provide. Abusive stress is really a form of trauma and can incorporate all 5 other Types of Stress. We’ve separated this 6th type into a separate article that you can read here, if you are interested.

Please note: if this situation is applicable to you or someone you know, this article is just a starting point. There are a wealth of other resources available on the topic.


20 Stress Management Techniques

Friends laughing and playing music together on the beach

Here are 20 Stress Management Techniques that have been proven effective for combating stress, and its associated symptoms of depression and anxiety. Please note this is not meant to be used in place of medical care or as a medical diagnosis. Rather it is intended as general advice for coping with typical day to day stressors in our lives.

1. Perceive reality effectively

Researchers have learned that our brains have two responses to stressful stimuli. The first response is the actual, immediate response to the stress. It can be fear, panic, annoyance, rage, shame, etc. But the second response is our brains reaction to our own emotion. It sounds complicated, but you can think of it as your brain’s attempt to make sense of what you just felt. It is here in this 2nd response that we spend most of our time. You don’t have much control over your initial knee-jerk reaction to an external stressor. However, with the 2nd response comes your labeling, attitudes and beliefs about what happened. It is far more under our conscious control than the immediate 1st reaction.

Our 2nd response is where we can get stuck. We can ruminate, we can hold on to our anger, we can blow things out of proportion or focus only on one aspect of a situation.

It is important when dealing with any tough situation to be able to perceive what is happening accurately. Don’t allow yourself to formulate an entire story about the situation that has little to do with what is actually happening. Brene Brown calls this our “sh*tty first draft”, or SFD for short. We all create them, but it is important to recognize them for what they are, and to move on. Try to observe more than you judge. You may not have control over an immediate emotion, but as Brendon Burchard coaches, you do have control over the long-term attitude, belief and intention that you set for a situation.

2. Treat uncertainty with patience

Uncertainty is inherently stressful. We like our worlds to be calm, stable and predictable. Yet this is not the reality of life. Particularly when we are going through a lot of change, whether it is planned or unplanned (new job, loss of a job, pregnancy, relationships ending or beginning, etc), we can feel out of control and helpless.

The people who try to control every little thing end up with far more stress than those who are able to just go with the flow and let things happen. Try to cultivate an attitude of “live and let live”. It is OK to not know everything, and to not know where things are going sometimes. Being joyful about uncertainty will result in a feeling of peace, because you know you will be OK regardless of outcome. Having anxiety over a certain outcome is only going to worry you and not likely to change what ultimately happens anyway. Learn to pick your battles and let the rest go.

3. Accept yourself for what you are (and aren’t)

Particularly in our day and age of social media and rampant advertising, the need for perfectionism is at an all-time high. We are expected to have perfect bodies, perfect clothes, perfect hair or makeup, perfect families, perfect pets, perfect cars and homes…even perfect food pictures! Social media, especially the visually-geared ones like Instagram and Snapchat, have become dysfunctional tools for perfectionistic comparison.

In the game of life, it is so crucial to learn who you are. What are your physical traits? Do you not have a perfect jawline or 6-pack abs? Learn to embrace that. What are your values and what do you stand for? Learn to define them and embrace those too. What do you honestly not care about even though society says you should? That’s OK – you don’t need to apologize. Are you really amazing at trivia but can’t play an instrument or sing in the least? Or what about at work? You do amazing with schedules and budgets but can’t strategize to save your life. That’s fine! It honestly is. You don’t need to look like Barbie while you’re out hiking. Your dinners don’t need to look magazine worthy on a Monday night. You don’t have to have every base covered.

If you aren’t feeling OK with who you are, try scaling back back on social media and TV advertising. Feel free to cut them out of your life completely for awhile. Turn your attention inward. Take a good look in the mirror. Take inventory of your personality, talents, past. Own your story, and don’t try to own anybody else’s. Remember that the world needs you just as you are. If you were just like someone else, there would be two of you, and you wouldn’t be needed. There’s no one else like you, regardless how crowded the Internet gets. So find your voice and contribute where you feel passionate. Let the rest go.

4. Accept others for who they are (and aren’t)

In the same way that we need to truly know ourselves and accept us for being imperfect, we need to do the same with others. How many times do we try to change people? We try to change our partners, our children, our friends, and our coworkers. We think if they would just change these one or two traits, then life would be so much more convenient. We would stop being so annoyed at them. They wouldn’t push our buttons. We wouldn’t have to clean up as many messes on their behalf.

You know, in the same vein that you aren’t perfect and shouldn’t even try to be, others aren’t as well. Research has shown time and time again that people are doing the best they can with the resources they have available to them. That doesn’t mean people are all equally crushing it every day. Some people have less mental issues weighing them down, they have more energy, they have more in their “toolkit of life” to cope with things that come up. Some people seem to be blown over by the slightest wind. But regardless, we are all doing the best we can.

So try focusing on people’s strengths. If there’s someone in your life that’s really obnoxious to you, try to come up with at least one thing good about them.** Let their imperfections go in the same way you do with yourself. Cultivate a live and let live attitude, even if you need to distance yourself a little. Trying to control and change people is stressful!

**This does not apply to abusive situations. Please see section on Abuse if this is applicable to you.

5. Accept a situation for what it is

You might notice a focus on Acceptance at this point, and there’s a good reason for that. Expectation is related to disappointment, acceptance is related to peace. Sometimes, a stressed out mind is a disappointed mind.

If there is a particular situation that is stressing you out, it is important to take some time away to really assess what is going on. You have to stop your mind-chatter long enough to really look at facts. How have other people behaved, what is going on, what are all the factors, and how severe is it really. Sometimes when we are embroiled in it daily, it is hard to do this. In this case, its useful to get away (physically away, like going somewhere for a weekend) to be able to think clearly and journal out a framework of facts and documentation.

Regardless, the likelihood is that you have very little power to change any particular situation – particularly if it involves others. If a situation is not making you happy, your only choice is to accept it for what it is and stay in it, or accept it for what it is and walk away. It can be challenging to do the latter, because we all want things to get better, and a lot of times we hang around waiting for them to do just that. But if we have put all the effort in that we can, and things are either staying the same or getting worse, then we must acknowledge that it is what it is. Once we have made peace with a circumstance, we can take appropriate action whether that is leaning in, moving away, or staying still.

6. Limit comparison to others

This is related to accepting yourself for who you are. Comparison has become a monster in our society. Its evil cousins are jealousy and envy. Comparison is the thief of all joy, but it is tempting because we are innately competitive creatures. Social media has made comparison far too accessible, and “one-upmanship” has become far too commonplace.

When we compare ourselves to others, we will either feel inferior or superior. Neither of those feelings are healthy. They both cause stress in different ways. The only person you should be comparing yourself to, is the person you were yesterday. By trying to beat our own records and compete only with ourselves, we let the rest of the world’s voices and opinions fade away. We just focus on trying to become better versions of ourselves.

So the next time you’re on social media wondering why your Thanksgiving turkey didn’t turn out as well as hers, or why your biceps aren’t as big as his, just log out of that comparison vortex and turn your attention inward. Immediately tell yourself some things you are grateful for about YOU. Focus on three positive traits that make you unique, and one thing you’d like to improve. Then go do it.

7. Focus on solutions over victimhood

It is easy to get caught up in our own drama. But research has found time and time again that people are happier and less stressed when their attention is focused outward on the world rather than inward on their own problems.

There are a few reasons for this. The first is that focusing on an external problem and its solution will lead us to feel more in control of our own lives. This is called “internal locus of control”, meaning we are in charge of what happens to us, not external factors. People who have an internal locus of control feel more empowered, more courageous, and are able to cope with setbacks more resiliently. The second is that rumination in the mind results in a downward spiral from fact into fiction, from reality into anxiety. We worry about every potential catastrophe that could happen, and our minds begin to torture us with “what ifs”. We have to stop this and realize that “what ifs” are like dreams – they are fictional snippets of a mind trying to protect us and they have no basis in reality.

Rumination also steals a lot of our energy. It steals far too much mental energy that we could be using on solving actual problems, and it saps us of physical energy as our bodies experience the stress response to our rumination as though they were really happening. Imagining something bad happening has been proven to raise cortisol and adrenaline in the body, even though that thing isn’t actually happening.

So the next time you encounter something stressful, try focusing on how you’re going to solve it. Don’t fall prey to victim mentality. That is only going to make you feel helpless and increase your stress and anxiety levels.

8. Find humor in situations

Laughter truly is one of the best medicines we humans have. We are (to my knowledge) the only species that verbally laughs – although I swear I’ve seen some animals laughing on the inside.

A lot of what we will ultimately feel about a situation is determined by how we position it. That 2nd response in our brain is where we label a situation as good or bad. Something could either be the worst thing to ever happen to us, or maybe its an unfortunate event but in a year from now everyone will be laughing about it, including you.

Although humor isn’t always appropriate in all situations, it can be a useful tool in coping with life’s curveballs. The physical act of laughing is proven to reduce cortisol in the body. So even if you don’t think a situation is funny, if you can get a humor break by watching a comedy show or movie, you’ll probably appreciate the deep belly laughs, and feel a little better afterwards.

9. Exercise creativity & learning

Multiple studies have shown that engaging the mind in creative endeavors is a far more effective at reducing stress than relaxation techniques such as taking a bath or getting a massage.

Engaging the mind redirects it into something enjoyable, and get it out of rumination/“sh*tty first draft” mode (a term coined by Brene Brown). When the mind is able to focus on something intensely, and feel accomplishment in that thing, our other stressful situation doesn’t seem as big. Whereas traditional relaxation techniques meant to calm the body are temporary at best. (I’ve been known to worry all the way through a massage before!)

Regardless, the message here isn’t that physical relaxation techniques are bad. Taking a hot shower or bath, getting a massage, or doing meditation are all likely to calm your nerves. But you should strongly consider exercising a creative endeavor as well. The brain loves to be useful, it loves to be learning or creating.

This is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can employ, especially if you are in a chronically stressful situation such as a strained relationship or a bad job. It also wards off mental illnesses and dementia. Here are some ideas: learn a new instrument, learn a new language, learn to cook or bake, get into painting or drawing, write poems or start writing a novel, or build something.

10. Shift your focus from mind (thoughts) to body (movements)

Especially in an acutely stressful situation, it can work wonders to temporarily get out of your own head. Calm the critical or panicky voices in your brain that only get louder the more you give them your attention. Bring your focus instead into your physical body. Observe your own breathing, the sensation of your heart beating, your muscles, your throat, your stomach. Focus intently on the present moment, one moment at a time. Try starting with 2-3 minute sessions and see if you can extend them daily up to 15 or 20 minutes. This will become a daily body meditation practice for as long as you need it.

When you focus your brain on physical sensations instead of its own anxiety, it helps to pause the mental chatter long enough for moments of peace. It helps to calm you. Calming the incessant voice in your mind takes discipline and practice, but mindful meditation of body sensations can help begin the process.

11. Be concerned for welfare of others and humanity.

Research has shown that the happiest people on the planet are outward focused rather than inward focused. Living a life of serving others is deeply gratifying in a way that hedonism simply can’t be.

Have you ever decided to go hog wild and let yourself eat, drink, buy, and do whatever you want for a time? It’s really fun at first but it loses its novelty pretty quickly. Oftentimes after a binge like this, we feel even worse about ourselves. Letting yourself fall off the bandwagon and becoming preoccupied with your own problems does nothing to alleviate stress in the long term.

Don’t focus solely on own problems. Volunteer for a cause that you feel strongly about, whether that is with an animal shelter, habitat for humanity, meals on wheels, or underserved children. Try helping others solve their problems, and along the way you may find that your own problems don’t seem quite as overwhelming.

12. Foster deep appreciation for basic life events

The ability to be content with small things is no small feat in today’s technology and information age. It seems that everyone on social media is taking glamorous vacations, eating glamorous food, driving glamorous cars, and in every sense living a glamorous, over-the-top life. It can be easy to get caught up in needing more, all the time.

This “keeping up with the neighbor” effect, also called “fear of missing out” or FOMO, is its own cause of stress in today’s comparison culture. Yet we all know that life is not always glamorous. And many of us have experienced deep and profound happiness and the simplest of moments. The long hug of our partner after an absence. A quiet and leisurely conversation. The lick of a dog’s tongue. Hearing our child speak our name for the first time. The smell of coffee in the morning. Literally stopping to smell some beautiful flowers. These experiences are all simple and free.

Having a deep appreciation for life’s simple moments is one of the best ways to stay grounded and not get caught up in the stressfulness of consumerism. We should not need glamourous experiences or things to be happy – regardless what advertising and social media say.

13. Have deep satisfying relationships with a few people

Our need to belong is one of the foundational need as living beings. We are deeply engrained tribal people. In today’s modern technology age, it can be harder than ever to feel truly connected to one another. This is ironic given that we are technologically more connected than ever before. Yet internet connection is no kind of substitute for face to face connection – the feeling of belonging and acceptance.

It is not necessary to have an entire extended family or tribe of friends who are super close. You may see other people’s photos online and feel envious. But satisfaction is not about quantity, rather quality. If you are able to foster even just one or two truly deep, authentic relationships, they will help you weather life’s storms in a way that 5000 facebook friends never will.

14. Understand your values well

Have you ever taken time away from all of life’s daily chaos to sit down and really think through who you are and what you stand for? If you haven’t, find some time over a weekend to do so. Begin by brainstorming things you feel strongly about, and things that give you the most joy. Try answering the question “What gives me the most pain about the world?”

This is a tough question to ask yourself but it will lead you to some of your deepest values as an individual. Once you have the list of values prioritized and refined down to your top 5 or 10, post them somewhere in a prominent place. When you wake up each day, review them, and set your intention to live by them for that day.

When you know your values, and you make key life decisions and behaviors according to them, you will feel more grounded. Tough days at work or home won’t feel quite as chaotic. You’ll know that you are living your life according to your own intention. This will give you a sense of control and purpose, which are both fantastic at combating especially chronic forms of stress.

15. Enforce boundaries consistently

Enforcing boundaries is one of the most important things we can do as human beings to maintain our sanity. Whether a boss is encroaching on evening, weekend or family time, whether a partner is asking you to do things you aren’t comfortable with, or whether you have an overbearing friend or family member in your life, there will always be other people who have expectations of you that are not aligned with your own.

We must remember that we are in control of our lives, not others. They have their own lives to control. We get to write our own stories, not others for us. It is so tempting as human beings to want to play in other people’s sand boxes, isn’t it? How many times have you tried to change someone to fit your expectations of them, while ignoring change necessary in your own life?

Living by our boundaries can be as big as choosing who we marry (not who our friends or family think we should marry), or as small as someone needing “a quick favor” during a time you’re busy doing something else. If you have gone through the exercise in #14 about finding and living your Values, then boundaries become a little easier to define, but to most of us they will always be a little difficult to implement.

It is always hard telling people No. But becoming a “Yes Person” is likely to land you in your own stress swamp faster than anything. You’ll end up resentful of those around you, and could end up acting out in passive-aggressive manners. Brene Brown has great material on Boundaried Compassion – her work is a highly recommended read.

16. Know when and how to unplug

One very important boundary that we can have, is a quiet but firm insistence on our own rest. In order to perform at our best, we must feel at our best. We simply cannot do that if we are burning the candle at both ends, trying to do everything and be all things to all people. Some of the most successful leaders in the world set aside times to barricade themselves off from the rest of the world and its expectations.

The world’s expectations will always be there. Your mind and mental health must come first. Knowing that rest and recovery are crucial, and prioritizing it regularly, will ensure that you are able to deal with life in a refreshed manner. Dealing with tough situations is a lot easier with a clear and rested mind.

17. Maintain strong moral/ethical standards

Having strong moral and ethical standards is different from #14, understanding our values. This one is about doing the right thing – and doing things in the right way. Having strong ethical standards does not mean you subscribe to a certain faith or religious belief. We all know the basics of how we should be treating others, and when we are doing something wrong. Lying, cheating and stealing are universally condemned by society. We know that we should be treating with others with respect, even when they don’t act as we would like, or believe the things that we do.

We have found that people who have little to no ethical standards, tend to experience higher stress levels in their lives. This may be linked to a low self esteem, except for those with sociopathy. Guilt and shame are associated with high levels of ongoing, chronic stress – believing we are bad people tends to stress us out. Doing bad things and feeling guilt, especially hidden guilt, leads us to not perform at our best. In order to live your best life, be sure that you are doing so with a clean conscience. Do right by others, even if they are not doing right by you. You will sleep more peacefully each night.

18. Take care of basic hygiene

It sounds a little silly, but some of the most stressed out, anxious or depressed people are either so preoccupied or lethargic that they haven’t showered or brushed their teeth in days. You can’t possibly feel at your best or tackle life’s curveballs if your face feels dirty and your hair feels greasy.

Especially if you are experiencing an acute stress response or anxiety attack, do a quick check on the basics. When is the last time you have showered, shaved, washed your hair and face, and brushed your teeth? Are you wearing clean clothes or are they stained and stinky?

Take care of your basics as Step #1 before you move on to anything else. A shower and good tooth brushing isn’t going to solve all of life’s problems. But it can help you feel a little more refreshed so you feel more enabled to cope with whatever has been thrown at you.

Don’t underestimate the power of feeling cleaned and groomed. It can really boost your confidence.

19. Eat and drink well

Nutrition and hydration could be the single most important factor in stress management and performance. Multiple studies have shown that a dehydrated brain is a depressed brain. Simply focusing intently on proper hydration for 3-4 days can alleviate mild to moderate depression, lethargy and fatigue symptoms. Most of us are woefully dehydrated given the amount of sugar, salt, alcohol and caffeine we consume.

Along the same lines, the Standard Western Diet is associated with depression, anxiety and fatigue. When you feed your body junk, it responds as it would to an infection. Food is supposed to be fuel and nourishment. That is what our bodies expect. Instead, eating a chronic bad diet teaches our bodies to treat digestion as an immune response. We know that our gut is like our second brain, and it has a memory. This auto-immune response to bad food can become engrained in us.

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, your specific 5-7 day regimen should include:
1. Getting half your body weight in ounces of transparent fluid per day
2. Eating a minimum of one LARGE (entree sized) dark leafy green salad per day – studies have shown eating greens reduces depression symptoms
3. Eating anti-inflammatory supplements such as nuts (specifically walnuts, almonds and pecans) and berries
4. Eliminating all sugar and alcohol from your diet until symptoms subside, then adding back in very carefully and in low amounts
5. Do NOT use any drug that depletes your serotonin or dopamine levels if you are prone to anxiety and depression! Feeling high might be fun for awhile, but it always comes at a cost. It depletes your brain’s feel good chemicals and you are likely to experience a depressive crash for days afterward until your brain can replenish. Try to get your highs from exercise, creativity, and connection to others – at least while you are suffering acute symptoms.

20. Exercise daily

Multiple studies have shown that 30 minutes daily of even light exercise such as a brisk walk, particularly performed outdoors in fresh air, is as effective for treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety as an anti-depression medication. Even if you don’t feel up for anything close to what you’d label a “workout”, you can’t get to the gym, don’t like gyms, hate weights, and simply can’t lift your heavy-feeling limbs enough to get a cardio session in, just put on some sneakers and start walking. Walk outdoors preferably, or if its raining, walk on a treadmill. Walk around your house, or up and down some stairs. Go to a mall and walk its entirety.

Other quick ideas: Do jumping jacks during each commercial break of your TV show. Try getting 10 situps and 10 pushups in every morning when you wake up. Do 10 squats every time you take a restroom break. Walk or jog up and down your stairs. Do whatever it takes to get your heart rate up for even a small amount of time.

Exercise is excellent for your heart, your blood flow, and bringing oxygen to the brain. It soothes your adrenals, and it makes you feel strong, powerful and confident over time. The hardest part of exercise if you haven’t done it in awhile, is just starting. Use some of the ideas above to make it work for you. Start with 5 or 10 minutes if you have to, but aim to get 30 in every day – even if that’s broken up into 6, 5-minute increments. Exercise is one of the best ways our body combats stress hormones with feel-good hormones. And its a great way to get toxins out of the body.

If you work in a corporate or office environment, try bringing a pair of athletic shoes with you to work and taking a 30 minute walk during your lunch break, or any time during the day you can fit it in. You’ll find yourself refreshed for the rest of the day.

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