Being stressed sometimes is part of being human. But if you’re stressed often, or to a point where it’s affecting your health, it could be time to make a change.

Being stressed all the time means your body is essentially on high alert all the time. In the short term, this can result in mood and behaviour problems, headaches, stomach cramps, poor sleep, tiredness, and more. In the long term, it could lead to more problematic issues such as high blood pressure and anxiety.

It’s not always possible to remove sources of stress from your life. Work, family, health conditions, and a myriad of other things can all contribute to feelings of stress. 

What you can do is find ways to respond to and cope with stressful situations. Here are some ideas that might help. 

Stress management techniques

There are numerous ways you can minimise your stress, so it’s all about finding the best option for you and your needs. Here are five popular techniques to consider adding to your stress management toolbox.

Yoga

Yoga is approximately 3,000 years old. A combination of stretching and breathwork, it can help you relax and move your body out of ‘high alert’ into a more calm state. It’s been found to help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. 


There are many different types of yoga, ranging from fast, strength-based flows (such as vinyasa) to slow, restorative sessions (such as yin or yoga nidra). All types of yoga have the potential to help with stress relief, but for maximum benefits look for options that combine physical poses with plenty of mindfulness, such as breathwork and meditation.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing is quick, easy, and can offer reprieve from a stressful situation. Breathing right down into your belly – abdominal breathing – helps to regulate and soothe your nervous system. It’s very difficult (almost impossible!) to think yourself out of stress, but deep breathing helps to calm your brain. It’s also been associated with other health benefits, including regulated blood pressure, improved emotional control, more energy, and even a better memory.


To practice deep breathing, make yourself comfortable in a quiet place. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, and breathe in deeply through the nose, aiming to inflate your diaphragm, and then out through the mouth. Count from one to five with each inhale and exhale. Repeat until you feel relaxed. 

Talk it out

Speaking about your stress with a trusted confidante might help to make it feel less overwhelming. Studies have shown that talking about your problems is associated with better health outcomes, such as a strengthened immune system. Talking might also help you find a solution, explore the problem from different angles, release tension, and realise you’re not alone.

Next time you’re feeling stressed, why not try talking with a trusted friend or family member? They might not have any solutions, but they can take the weight off your chest just by listening. Speaking with a medical professional or therapist might also be beneficial, if this is an option available to you.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique in which you lie down in a comfortable position, then one by one, focus on relaxing each of your muscles. Do this by first activating each one, such as scrunching up the muscles in your face or pointing your toes, then releasing them and feeling them relax. The goal is full-body relaxation and a break from your stress.

The goal of this exercise is to help you recognise what physical tension feels like, as well as how to release it. Over time, it might help you to manage the physical effects of stress. It’s also been associated with improved sleep and might help those with high blood pressure or migraines.

Exercise

Exercise can be a powerful stress reliever, thanks to the endorphins (feel-good hormones) that it releases. Exercise also helps your body to use oxygen effectively and improves blood flow.
You don’t need to enjoy running or lifting weights to enjoy exercise. There are so many ways to move your body – dancing, hiking, biking, swimming, and yoga, just to name a few. Try to find an exercise that you love and incorporate it into your routine. Aim to exercise several times a week at a minimum, or every day for ideal results. While any type of exercise is great, it’s worth noting that walking in nature is especially protective against stress. Spending time in nature is associated with greater feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

Supplements that can alleviate stress

When taken alongside stress management techniques, certain supplements may also help. 


Some studies show that high doses of vitamin B may help to “significantly lower personal strain” and reduce confusion and downcast moods. You’ll find vitamin B in foods such as milk, eggs, and dark vegetables, as well as in supplements. 


Another option is valerian root. This root has been used for centuries to help reduce sleeplessness and anxiety, and is often used in mild sedatives as a sleep aid and for nervous tension. 


There is even some evidence to suggest that vitamin C can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. This suggests that a diet high in vitamin C – whether that’s through foods or added supplements such as Vitamin C Lipo-Sachets – may be beneficial for stress management. 


Of course, there’s no special supplement, diet, or magic strategy that will cure stress. Most people find they thrive when using a combination of things, such as stress management techniques, avoiding certain stimulants, and getting enough sleep. 

Is it time for a new approach to life?

Another option to consider if stress is taking its toll is reconsidering your approach to life. This could mean looking at all of the things adding stress to your life, and seeking to address them one by one. While some situations can’t be helped – or at least difficult to change – you may be able to reduce your overall stress by improving other areas. 


If you can, avoid people who stress you out, and start saying no to some social engagements and commitments if you think they might only add more stress. For example, the news is a regular source of stress for many people. While it’s important to know what’s happening in the world, try to limit checking the news to once per day. 


Other ideas include asking for support from family and friends, limiting time on social media, making sleep a priority, swapping out high-intensity activities for rest, and making time to do things you enjoy each day. 

In summary 

A little stress is normal. A lot of stress is unwelcome and potentially unhealthy. Taking steps to reduce stress in your life may help to improve your everyday happiness and health. Don’t forget to speak to your doctor about your levels of stress for professional help and advice. 



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Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.

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