Stress relief is about managing your stress so you can bring your life and health back into balance. We all feel a little frazzled and overwhelmed at times from work pressures or juggling multiple responsibilities. This isn’t always a bad thing because it can help us rise to meet challenges and get things done. Ongoing stress however, where we feel we cannot cope with what is being asked of us, can result in sleeping difficulties, digestive problems, forgetfulness, susceptibility to infection and a whole host of other health problems.1 Stress relief is about incorporating techniques to stop us feeling overwhelmed and to help us cope with the unrelenting demands placed on us, so we can enjoy a happy and healthy life. We all experience stress differently and what stresses one person out, may be a mere glitch in another person’s life, much the same as stress relief may require a different approach for different people.
Three suggestions for stress relief
There are many things we can do to help manage our stress more effectively and to help us cope with what life throws our way.
- Keep yourself healthy with regular exercise and good nutrition – Exercise is the ultimate stress‐reliever and boosts your mood by releasing feel‐good endorphins and distracting you from whatever worries are on your mind. Rather than collapsing on the couch or taking it out on your loved ones after a stressful day, you may benefit from going for a walk or run around the block or attending a boxing class. Choose any activity as long as it’s enjoyable to you, helps shed your daily tension and keeps you calm and optimistic.Maintaining a balanced diet is also crucial for stress relief. Our bodies require vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to function efficiently, which we won’t get from multiple coffees or skipping meals because we are too busy. It’s important to increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, water, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds and consider taking a multivitamin or B‐complex to top up your daily nutrient consumption, as stress increases our requirement for certain vitamins and minerals. Stimulants like caffeine and sugar although comforting, may actually make us feel worse in the long run so try to replace at least one of your coffees with green tea (a natural source of the calming substance theanine). Also important, replace sugar‐laden treats with nuts and seeds, fruit, or a couple of pieces ofdark chocolate, because these will provide you with lasting energy and help you remain focused.
- Try relaxation techniques – Yoga, meditation and deep breathing are great stress‐relieving tools. In fact there is good evidence that yoga is useful for relieving stress and anxiety2 and meditation can help modulate how we respond to stress.3 Nowadays there are so many ways to access these relaxation techniques and incorporate them into your day whether it’s going to a local yoga class, downloading a meditation app or practising deep breathing techniques on your commute home from work.
- Do something enjoyable every day – It’s important to make time to have fun and get some balance back into your life in order to cope more effectively with stress. Do something that you find pleasurable every day whether it’s talking to a friend on the phone, spending time alone, watching a comedy, going on a ‘date night’ without the kids, doing something thoughtful for someone else or simply spending time in nature.
Published July 1, 2013