Five quick tips to help you keep stress at bay every day

Do you find yourself worrying on a daily basis? Discover five quick tips to help you manage your anxiety and keep stress at bay.

It’s difficult to imagine a world where stress isn’t a part of our daily lives in some compacity. From shocking and disturbing news headlines to never ending increases in living costs, stress has never been so topical.

So it’s no surprise perhaps that as many as one in five people in the UK feel stressed more days a month than they don’t. 

Stress is our body’s reaction to pressures from a situation or life event. In many everyday situations it can be seen as a normal reaction that helps keep us awake and alert, but when stress becomes excessive or persists over a long period of time the opposite happens.  

The knock-on effects of stress can have a vast impact on our mental and physical wellbeing, whilst disrupting the balance of hormones naturally released, particularly cortisol – the stress hormone known for producing for the body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ response.

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, co-founder of The London Sleep Centre and consultant neuropsychiatrist, explains that when our internal neuro-chemical systems are working normally, they regulate biological processes like sleep, appetite, mood and energy levels. If we are stressed, the Adreno-Cortical System is dysregulated, and our energy sources are diverted.

While this system is great for helping us in the short-term and emergency situations, it can have serious health impacts if that stress response stays switched on for long periods. From nausea and headaches, to sleep deprivation and mood changes, stress triggers a hormonal response that floods the body leading to far-ranging symptoms that can be physically or mentally harmful.

Five quick tips to help you keep stress at bay every day

It’s important to recognise when you’re stressed so you can intervene before it affects your long-term health. Common signs of stress could include difficulty concentrating, interrupted sleep, breathlessness, irritability, or low energy. 

You can’t avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies. Here are five quick tips to help you.

1) Exercise

Whether it’s a brisk walk around the block, or a virtual workout, exercise encourages the body to release endorphins which counteract the release of cortisol. Getting outside in the fresh air not only clears the airways, but a daily dose of vitamin D supports your body’s natural mood regulating system.

The key thing with exercise is to find something you enjoy and can fit into your life. This way there’s a greater chance you’ll actually keep it up – and reap the benefits. Bonus points if you can find a friend to exercise with. Research shows we’re much more likely to maintain an exercise regime if we’re accountable to someone else.

2) Eat well

A balanced diet can­ reduce the physical effects of stress. Start the day with a warm bowl of porridge to boost levels of serotonin, a calming chemical found in the brain. It’s also recommended to incorporate foods rich in vitamin C for their immune-boosting properties, and stock up on leafy greens full of magnesium to compound the effects of stress.

As a general rule, try to avoid ‘junk’ food that is high in fat and/or sugar, such as pastries, white bread, many breakfast cereals, etc. And instead choose foods high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans.

3) Take a breath

When we’re stressed our breathing speeds up and our breaths become shallow. Research shows that practicing controlled breathing techniques is an effective way to reduce stress.

One technique to try is the 7-11 breathing technique. This is how to do it:

  • Breathe in slowly for the count of 7.
  • Exhale slowly for the count of 11.

Breathing deeply like this triggers our parasympathetic nervous system which can reduce feelings of tension and stress.

4) Try a herbal remedy

Herbal remedies have been used to treat stress and improve wellbeing for many years. Valerian root has been found to relieve irritability, anxiety, and the stresses of everyday life, without risk of sedation.

5) Prioritise sleep

Sleep is our body’s natural healing process and it’s a powerful tool to help reduce stress. However, when we’re stressed, achieving a good night’s sleep can feel even further out of reach.

Consistent bedtime routines, a calming bedroom environment or even taking a valerian root-based sleep aid can help you drift off without feeling drowsy the next day. If you often struggle with insomnia, you can read eight tips to help you get a better night’s sleep here.

Kalms Day is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as mild anxiety and irritability.

Photo by Daniel Monteiro