We have some great advice for Stress Awareness Month. And let’s be honest there are times in life when we can all feel under pressure. From work commitments to family pressures, stress is a natural part of life. We just need to acknowledge when it starts to feel overwhelming and try to ease that.
One of our health experts has put together some tips you can try when the pressure is on.
Mood Boosting Food
Your diet can suffer when you’re stressed, making it more likely you’ll skip meals or feast on quick-fix junk food. But it is important to stabilise blood-sugar levels to control the release of stress hormones. It’s also wise to get plenty of magnesium – an important mineral for relaxing your muscles and nerves. So pack your meals with plenty of dark, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and whole grains, and have a magnesium-rich banana daily.
Studies consistently show yoga offers a unique combination of relaxing the body and mind simultaneously. And you don’t have to be able to touch your toes or chant to reap its many benefits. Yoga instructor, Ali Henderson, says, “Yoga is like magic — even if you do it with solely physical fitness in mind, it will bring mental benefits. Any time I’m under stress, I aim to up my own private practice and that sorts me out.”
Have a read of our interview with Ali which also includes a mini yoga session to help get you started.
Whittle Down The “To Do” List
If you have lots of things on your “to do” list, try to whittle them down so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Also figure in “me time”. Treat yourself to a mood enhancing massage, manicure or even a walk in the countryside. Nature can work wonders for calming the soul.
Be Kind To Yourself
Showing yourself a little bit of loving kindness has been shown (by neuroscientists) to ease stress, boost physical and mental health. It can also reduce pain and inflammation and even support your immune system. So turn your back on perfectionism as you’ll only be setting yourself up for a fall. Mistakes are all part of the learning process. When things do go wrong, respond to yourself as you would to a loved one in pain or in trouble and be nice!
A Cup Of Tea With A Friend
Switch to green tea if you find yourself relying on a caffeine hit to keep you going, as there’s a risk of mood slumps when the caffeine wears off. Green tea does contain some caffeine to give you a lift, but also contains the amino acid theanine which has a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety by increasing levels of feel-good chemicals. And what better way to boost mood than chatting with a friend over a cup of tea?
See The Funny Side
Numerous studies show that laughter boosts our energy levels and cuts through stress. A good belly laugh not only stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, but it also triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain that make us feel happier and relaxed. Research shows laughter may even help ease pain and make it easier to cope with difficult situations.
Take A Deep Breath
Fear, sadness and worry can make our normal breathing patterns short and tight, and over time we can get stuck in a pattern that keeps those negative thought patterns in a perpetual loop. Try inhaling slowly through your mouth so your belly and your chest rise, then puff out a short exhalation, and immediately repeat. Done properly, a few minutes of transcendental breathing like this can induce a powerful state of calm.
For the very best of advice it’s worth looking at the Stress Management Society website for in-depth advice on how stress affects us and you can even take a test to check your stress levels.
Don’t forget, we have great health advice every week in “The People’s Friend” magazine. Our health expert, Jackie Mitchell, interviewed Neil Shah from the Stress Management Society for Stress Awareness Month and his advice is published in our April 2 issue, out now.