Stress urgh! We all feel it but how can we deal with it? Backed by research, we share some of the ways you can overcome the feelings of stress. Whether constant, or environmental, these tools are sure to help.
Exercising to combat stress
We’re told exercise is good for us for a number of reasons. It helps keep our bodies flexible and mobile, it reduces the effect of diseases, cancer and other health conditions, and it’s been proven to affect our moods (in a good way).
Regular exercise is said to reduce fatigue, improve mood, induce happiness, and generally improves our cognitive function. The biggest, initial hurdle, is finding something that motivates you and you enjoy doing. Any kind of exercise is good exercise, for example a daily, 15 minute walk at a gentle pace (clear air, clear head) is better than nothing. Try a variety of activities to get a feel for what you may like. It could be yoga, a local netball team, a love for the cross-trainer, resistance training, hockey, rollerblading or even skateboarding. When things feel a little stagnant, try something new.
Best stress-busting exercise programmes
But when it comes to stress busting, the best kinds of exercise is something that gets your heart pumping. The NHS say this could be a brisk walk, cycling, water aerobics and even pushing the lawn mower! Other aspects of stress busting exercise you may like to try are: aerobics, tai-chi, martial arts, and kickboxing. Martial arts and kickboxing are great ways to release tension and frustration in a healthy, controlled way.
We know it can be tough when stressed and overwhelmed to get out and exercise. To help get you going, it may be beneficial to buddy up with someone to attend a class with or find some videos you can do at home.
Your diets effect on mood
What we eat can also impact our moods. Caffeine, for example, can make us feel more stressed and anxious, and cause disruptive sleep. But did you know that high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates have similar effects? Yet when we’re short on time, feeling under pressure, or tired, all we want to do is break out the junk food, coffee and full fat coke.
As we know, moderation is key when it comes to diet, so we should not be depriving ourselves of these things all the time. Rather, if it’s a daily habit, that should change.
Stress releases free radicals that damage cells
Stress can create free radicals which damage cells in the body. Free radicals can cause cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, other diseases and premature ageing to name a few of the effects. However, antioxidants can help combat their effect. You can boost your intake of antioxidants by eating the following:
- Red, purple and blue grapes
- Red berries (e.g. raspberries and strawberries)
- Dark green veggies
- Sweet potatoes and orange vegetables
- Tea (mostly green tea)
- Whole grains
Chocolate is a very effective antioxidant!
Did you know that chocolate is actually good for combating stress? Studies have shown that dark chocolate has a higher rate of antioxidants than most fruits. The higher the % of cocoa solids, the better it is! Hotel Chocolat, have a fantastic range of dark chocolate, with cocoa solids between 65%-100%. If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate (like me), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the higher percentage chocolates. I had a particular fondness for the 70%.
Other ways you can de-stress:
Have a laugh
Book to see a comedy show or watch a movie you know is funny. Studies have proven that when we laugh, we release endorphins which is the stress busting hormone! This hormone is also released when we eat chocolate and exercise!
Listen to music
Create an ‘I don’t give a f**k’ playlist. When things are particularly tough, put your headphones in, or turn the stereo up, have a dance or just enjoy. P!nk’s So What surely has to go on that!
Talk to someone
Sometimes simply talking to another, getting it off your chest and setting the world to rights can have a euphoric effect. They may also be able to provide ideas and solutions to things that are troubling you
Drink green tea
If you’re not use to drinking it, it can take a while to get used to the taste but it’s likely to be something you’ll get use to. I’d recommend Twinings pyramid Green Tea, Jasmine, or loose leaf tea which isn’t as bitter as the infused bags. You could also try adding a teaspoon of honey until you get use to it.
Create a moodboard
Even if it’s just an A4 sheet, cram it full of pictures or things and people that make you happy and keep it by your desk, bedside and even in the car if you want to. Whenever you’re feeling down or particularly stressed, pull it out, or look up and take it in. I’ll bet you can’t help but smile.
Make a plan
Plan a weekend, day, afternoon, or even just an hour in the diary just for you and something YOU want to do. Maybe it’s to go and get, or to give yourself a manicure, maybe you fancy a game of tennis. Perhaps you’ve not seen a friend in a while, go shopping (they don’t call it retail therapy for nothing), drink cocktails, take time to read, go to the spa etc.. Whatever it is you want to do, having something to look forward to can make all the difference.
We hope our tips have proved helpful. If you’re looking for more stress-busting solutions, check out our other reads below.