On a daily basis, we face so many different events that can trigger stress. Whether they’re due to an overwhelming schedule, a strenuous relationship or unexpected life events, there’s a lot that can stress us out. It’s that feeling of physical, mental or emotional tension that we sometimes just can’t seem to shake. Anxiety is also extremely common and associated with stress, especially among the millennial generation who have twice as many diagnosed anxiety disorders than baby boomers.
Not only do stress and anxiety make us feel discouraged and unmotivated, but they can also lead to serious health problems. According to the American Institute of Stress, effects can include increased depression, insomnia, risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and much more. These are serious effects that could take a toll on your long-term health.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re going through it alone too. But with more than 40 million American adults dealing with anxiety disorders, you’re far from alone. Even some of our favorite celebrities, who have wealth, good looks, and what seems like an overall great life, struggle with stress or anxiety like the rest of us.
We’ve rounded up science-backed ways that you can handle stress and anxiety in your daily life, as well as celebrities who have used these techniques to feel calmer, more focused and happier.
Practice daily meditation
Meditation is a great technique for managing stress and anxiety, even if you practice it for just 10 minutes a day. Much like any skill in life, the more frequently you practice meditation, the easier and more effective it becomes. There are a number of ways to practice meditation, but at its core it is a technique that encourages heightened self-awareness and focus. It allows you to silence your thoughts and focus on finding a restful state of mind.
In 2018, Latin-Grammy nominated artist Maluma temporarily withdrew from the music industry after an extended tour. Maluma made the announcement on Instagram, telling his fans he needed time to devote himself to meditation. His hope was to spend a few weeks nourishing and feeding his spirit, and taking time to refocus on himself.
Many celebrities have also found that state of mind with help from Bob Roth, a Transcendental Meditation (TM) expert. TM is a simple but effective type of meditation that uses silent mantras to help settle the mind and transition into a calm state. He’s helped celebs like Katy Perry, Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman and more find zen with daily meditation practice.
Exercise more frequently
When we are faced with a stressful situation, our body releases cortisol, or stress hormones. Cortisol helps your brain and body react to various stressors and get into “fight or flight” mode. Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol in the body can have long-term negative impact on your health, such as lower immune function, weight gain and high blood pressure.
While the body perceives exercise as physical stress, it actually reduces the amount of cortisol released over time because the body becomes more accustomed to the stress of working out.
Most of your favorite celebrities workout regularly and have a favorite exercise routine to help keep their body in shape, but many appreciate the mental benefits too! Khloe Kardashian says when she feels like the stress of life is closing in on her, going to the gym helps her refocus and feel more confident mentally and physically. Husband and wife duo Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky have even launched their own fitness and lifestyle app, where they’ve partnered with trainers and nutritionists to help people on their fitness journeys.
Change your diet
When feeling stressed out, it can be tempting to reach for a glass of wine to unwind or your favorite fast food for a comfort meal. While these things may feel like a quick fix, they actually cause more harm than good.
Consuming foods or drinks that contain things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and excess caffeine can cause our bodies to release additional cortisol, cause headaches and overstimulate our nervous system. All of these add up to one thing: more stress.
Instead of completely cutting your favorite comfort foods out of your diet completely, you can make substitutions to make the dish healthier. Jennifer Aniston will swap in veggies instead of pasta when she makes her homemade lasagna.
Use essential oils
Often used in aromatherapy, essential oils are compounds extracted from plants that capture that plant’s scent and flavor, otherwise known as its essence. You can apply the essential oils directly to your skin, or use a diffuser. Some of the best essential oils to help alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety are lavender, rose, ylang ylang and chamomile among others.
Jenna Dewan has used essential oils every day for almost two decades, and strongly believes in their ability to improve your stress and anxiety levels, and solve problems that life throws your way. When feeling especially stressed, she’ll opt for lavender oil or a combination of cedarwood and Roman chamomile.
We may not be able to completely prevent stressful situations from happening, but we can control how we react to them. By practicing self-care to take care of our bodies and minds, we better set ourselves up to appropriately respond to stress. Self-care will look different to every person — it just has to be some activity that helps you feel stronger in your mental, emotional and physical health. It may be something simple, like creating a cozy space in your bedroom to unwind in, or it can be something splurge-worthy like an afternoon at a spa.
For Tracee Ellis Ross from black-ish, keeping her body hydrated and taking care of her skin with a thorough moisturizing regime is a daily self-care practice. Kim Kardashian’s self-care is making a little bit of time for herself every single day. Whether it’s waking up early to get in a workout before her kids wake up, or staying up late to do a facial, the mom of three finds pockets of joy by showing herself love.
Get a good night of sleep
Everyone has heard the expression, “there’s not enough hours in the day.” And sometimes, it truly feels that way. We try to squeeze every last minute out of our day to be productive, getting in every errand, chore and social activity on our to-do list. And for many people, these to-do list items come with the cost of sacrificing sleeping hours.
Sleep is necessary for recharging our batteries and keeping both our minds and our bodies alert and healthy. Unfortunately, sleep and stress can go hand-in-hand. When you’re experiencing high levels of stress it can be more difficult to fall asleep; however, getting a good night's sleep can reduce the effects of stress.
High levels of stress can also result in insomnia, a common sleeping disorder that causes someone to have difficulty falling and staying asleep. With their hectic schedules, many celebrities suffer from insomnia and eventually fall into bouts of serious physical exhaustion.
Media mogul Arianna Huffington once experienced a health scare, where she collapsed in her office and broke her cheek bone due to stress and exhaustion. Today, Arianna is an advocate for getting enough sleep, saying she found true success when she stopped working around the clock.
Do a digital detox
We’re so connected to our devices that our smartphones have basically become an extension of our arm. For many of us, our tiny glowing screens are the last thing we look at before closing our eyes, and the first thing we pick up when we wake up. We’re eager to check our inbox, send someone a text, or peruse Instagram to see what product influencers are pushing us to buy.
Researchers have been analyzing the connection between stress levels and social media use, and there’s a lot of evidence proving their case. People who use social media obsessively are at risk for developing social media anxiety disorder, which is now recognized by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In addition to stress and anxiety, overuse of social media sites can lead to depression, paranoia and loneliness.
Ed Sheeran notably went on a two year digital detox in 2015, stating that he felt he was seeing the world through a screen and not with his own eyes. After the detox, Ed felt that he had much more balance in his life, and now doesn’t feel pressure to reach for his phone as soon as he wakes up.
While you don’t have to completely stay off of social media like Ed, it is recommended that you balance the amount of time you spend online with time spent doing other activities. Signing up to participate in clubs or volunteer organizations are great ways to detox for a few hours and refocus your life.
Find activities that bring you joy
With all the stress we have in our daily lives, it’s important to take time to do an activity or hobby just for the fun of it. It might be something active like going for an evening run, or something simple like taking 20 minutes every day to journal — the important thing is that it’s something that improves your mood and helps you feel a bit more relaxed.
Entrepreneur and businessman Marc Cuban says that his way of reducing the stress of managing more than 70 companies is to play with his kids every day after work. Marc says he can feel the stress of business slip away as soon as he hears his kids laugh!
Talk to a professional
Sometimes all the tips and tricks for handling stress and anxiety aren’t the right for you, and that’s okay! Many people find it helpful to talk with a licensed counselor or therapist, who can offer a new perspective or just serve as an open ear. Not only is it helpful to have an unbiased person to talk to, but studies have shown that talking to a therapist can lead to positive, measurable changes in brain activity.
There are many celebrities who are advocates for therapy, and find it helpful for themselves. Demi Lovato, who has been vocal about her struggles with mental health and addition, has been in continued therapy to aid in her recovery. The singer has faced her battles with bulimia, bipolar disorder and substance addiction, and uses therapy and rehab to help her stay on the right path.
In addition to Demi, other celebrity advocates for professional help include Michael B. Jordan, who wants men to feel more empowered to talk about their feelings, and former First Lady Michelle Obama, who says that asking for help does not make you weak, but rather shows how strong you are.
Stress and anxiety are both very common, and it’s totally okay if you’re feeling the strain every once in a while. By knowing what techniques and activities can help relieve some of the stress, you can make improvements each day.
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