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10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Improve Well-being

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, 4 min read

10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Improve Well-being

In today’s fast paced world, stress has become a very common part of everyday life.  It is more important than ever to be conscious of our stress response and create habits to reduce stress and the impact it has on our health. Stress can impact not only our mental health but our physical health too and can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease and more. 

By implementing simple yet very effective practices every day, you can significantly reduce stress levels and improve your overall health and longevity. We all respond differently to stress and to stress reduction activities. The following practices are extremely effective, however remember to start small and prioritise what you enjoy first. 

  1. Exercise and movement – the stress response primes our body to move. In the moment of feeling stressed try a minute of movement such as jumping on the spot, running up and down the stairs or shaking your body. This uses excess adrenaline that the body builds up. It can instantly relieve tension and feelings of stress.
  2. Breathwork practice – Taking time to focus on your breathing can help. When we are stressed we breathe differently due to the cycle of the brain–body response. To hijack this you can consciously control breathing. Try the 3, 4, 5 technique by breathing in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 and out for 5. You will change your physiology and activate the parasympathetic system and turn off the sympathetic system which is activated when you are stressed.
  3. Avoid eating meals and snacking when stressed –  when we feel stressed the digestive system shuts down. Eat when you feel relaxed so that you eat mindfully and avoid issues such as IBS symptoms and unwanted weight gain. It is equally important to eat the right food so that you are fuelling yourself adequately so that you are not putting additional stress on your body to process food that isn’t well tolerated. Read more: Mindful Eating for Your Body and Mind
  4. Get adequate sleep – a lack of sleep can lead to higher levels of stress. It can lower thinking and problem-solving skills, attention, memory and patience. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer and it calms and restores the body and regulates mood.
  5. Get support – Social support including emotional support from friends and family helps you cope with adverse experiences. Support can be in the form of expressions of empathy, love and trust which positively impacts health and guards against distress. 
  6. Avoid excess caffeine – low to moderate doses of caffeine (50-300mg) can increase alertness, energy and ability to concentrate, while higher doses may lead to restlessness, insomnia and increased heart rate. You may find that reducing caffeine intake improves mood stability, reduces headaches and symptoms of anxiety.
  7. Positive effect’ journaling – this involves writing something you are grateful for everyday. Simply writing this down can have a powerful effect on your outlook on life and reduce unhelpful perceptions. Unhelpful and negative thinking can lead to excess worry, which in turn increases the stress response as it prepares you for ‘danger’. You can simply state 3-5 gratitudes a day as a way to journal.
  8. Drink enough water – if you are dehydrated then your organs, including your brain will not function properly which contributes to stress. Water transports hormones and nutrients to the vital organs and the amount we need does depend on factors such as your weight, activity level and our environment such as temperature and humidity. 
  9. Reduce screen time – constant exposure to social media and the internet can lead to information overload and will significantly increase your risk of stress. Disconnecting from these triggers enables our minds to unwind and engage with more relaxing activities. Try leaving your phone out of the bedroom so that you are less likely to be distracted leading to potentially  less sleep and recovery.
  10. Have fun - laughing helps your muscles to relax. It increases oxygen intake which decreases cortisol levels and stimulates the circulatory system. There is evidence that laughing even without finding something funny is beneficial for stress management.
A person with a relaxed expression, reflecting reduced stress levels

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The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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