Everyone experiences stress in their life; it’s normal, it’s expected and it, in all honesty, sucks. If you don’t have time to meditate, or you’ve been trying to fix your stress levels and it’s just not working, here are some unexpected ways you can deal with stress and anxiety.

Give Your Pet A Cuddle

A huge way you can (almost) instantly reduce your stress levels is by giving your pet a cuddle. If you have a dog, they’re more than happy to reciprocate, but if you have a cat, they may take a little bit of extra effort. You can keep them sitting in their comfy pet bed, just give them some extra attention and feel the stress slowly slip away. Hugging in itself increases oxytocin, and decreases the fear centre of your brain. Just make sure you’re not annoying your pet, because even if they’re acting as if they’re okay, sometimes animals don’t want hugs. Even patting your dog is enough to help reduce stress levels.

What Can Trigger Anxiety?

Jess Shaw from Loving Loudly shares her experiences. “Having extreme anxiety and other mental health illnesses, both stress and anxiety play a major role in my everyday life.

However, it usually isn’t the big unexpected things that trigger it. It’s the small things. Yesterday my anxiety was through the roof because my to-do list was longer than usual.

The day before that, it was because I needed to go grocery shopping (a task in which brings out the worst in my social anxiety) and just a few days ago, I had to take medication as my anxiety was so bad because I was covered in mozzie bites and I started having a panic attack. And yet all these simple and easy moments seem to bring out the worst in my mental health. On the other end of the stick however, when big moments happen and the world goes crazy, I could easily scoop my children up, do what needs to be done and not have even a flutter of stress or anxiety run through my body. Crazy?

Yes, but the fight or flight instinct is far greater than any stress or anxiety.” Find out more about Loving Loudly by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

Be Yourself

Suzanne Scarrow from Personal Peace Clinic shares her advice. “Are you trying to be somebody other than yourself? Are you worrying about what other people think of you? Are you scared of something that might, or might not, ever happen? Are you trying to be a perfect human? If you are doing any of these things you will be stressing yourself out.

Be yourself. You are unique and special and wonderful just as you are. Perfect does not exist.”

Find out more about Personal Peace Clinic by following them on Facebook.

Sleep More

Another contributing factor to stress and anxiety is a lack of sleep. A vicious cycle, what begins as a late night, turns into tiredness, which increases your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), which makes it harder to sleep. With a lack of sleep adds stress, which leads to even less sleep, increasing your cortisol levels even more, making you a nervous wreck who is racking up sleep debt. While it’s easy to say “just sleep more”, it’s not easy to do. If you’re uncomfortable while you’re in bed, add a mattress topper from MyDeal, and keep your room dark. This not only adds to your comfort level, but the darkness increases your level of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.

Stop Smoking

Natalie Clays from Allen Carr’s Easyway shares her advice. “Contrary to popular belief, smoking increases both stress levels and anxiety. There’s a common myth that smoking relaxes and relieves stress but the truth is, when a smoker goes into nicotine withdrawal it creates a slight, empty insecure feeling similar to a hunger and when they light up and relieve it, it gives the illusion of relaxation or stress relief. In reality, their heart rate, blood pressure and pulse all elevate, increasing their stress and anxiety levels. When a smoker is running low on cigarettes, they feel stressed. Non-smokers don’t. When a smoker isn’t allowed to smoke, they feel stressed. Non-smokers don’t. So next time you light up, thinking that cigarette is going to relax you, think again. It’s doing the complete opposite.” Find out more about Allen Carr by following them on Facebook.

Have Some Fun

Psychologist, Merryn Snare shares her advice for those who suffer from anxiety and stress. “When we consider the contributing stresses that build towards the volcano erupting,

they are frequently the ‘small’ stresses that dominate. These include things like:

Spilling the milk in the morning – which adds yet another thing to sort before leaving for work.

Running out of bread for the family lunches – do I race to the shop or give the children a something else – will that make me a ‘bad mother?”

Catching every red light on your way to work.

Your usual train is cancelled.

The best way to manage this stress buildup and prevent the volcano erupting in a stress or anxiety melt-down, is to ensure that you build regular relaxation and fun into your day, and just like the small things can trigger stress, small things can also give pleasure – such as a break with a great cuppa, a short walk, reading a book, magazine or blog …and the list goes on.” Find out more about Merryn Snare by following her on Facebook.

Ally Feiam is the marketing & content creator for MyDeal, an online marketplace with over 25,000 products.