Top 10 stress-busting tips to try today
25 Nov 2014
Life can be stressful at the best of times, but during a challenging time like this, and without the physical closeness of our friends and our workplaces, sports and hobbies - it can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are some things science tells us really work for stress, and they're mostly free and easy to incorporate into your day.
1. Listen to music
Playing calm music has been shown to have a positive effect on the brain, lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Classical music and the sounds of nature have been proven to be the most relaxing – no wonder they're the soundtrack of choice in day spas.
2. Call a friend
Close connections with friends and loved ones are linked to better emotional health. And even if we can't be physically with them, talking on the phone or - ideally - on video chat, is better than nothing. Why? Because body language and tone of voice speaks a thousand words, when it comes to feeling loved and supported.
3. Put it into perspective
A simple but old favourite mind trick – ask yourself “will this matter in 10 years’ time?” (hint: most things you’re worried about won’t).
4. Eat right
A healthy, varied diet can help the body overcome the physical demands of a stressful lifestyle; ironically, it’s often when we’re most busy we rely on convenience foods. B vitamins in particular have been shown to help relieve stress; wholegrains, legumes, mushrooms and turkey are good food sources, or you could try a wellbeing supplement such as Clements Tonic, which is a rich source of natural B-vitamins. Alcohol leaches B-vitamins from your system too, another good reason to stay off the booze during tough times.
5. Watch a comedy
… or some silly videos on You Tube. Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
6. Whiff lavender
Research shows that the scent of lavender eases anxiety and insomnia. In one study done at Britain’s University of Southampton, researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 10 adults. For a week, half the participants slept in a room where lavender scented essential oil was diffused in the air throughout the night; the rest snoozed in a similar room where a placebo – sweet almond oil – was used. After a week, the groups switched rooms. At the end of the study, the volunteers ranked the quality of their sleep 20% better on average when in the lavender-scented room. Bosisto’s Lavender Oil and Spray contains the most potent therapeutic form of Lavender, Lavendula Angustifolia – you can buy online here.
7. Exercise (even for a minute)
A short walk, or even standing up to stretch in the office, can provide immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving around your body releases endorphins which provides an instant mood lift. Longer term, studies show those who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress and depression, are more energised and sleep more deeply than those who don’t.
8. Turn off the TV/Ipad/smart phone
… and get to bed earlier. More sleep, and better quality sleep is one of the most effective stress busting tips of all.
9. Watch those extra coffees
Excessive caffeine – whether it’s from coffee, energy drinks or even too much tea – can cause a short term spike in blood pressure and causes your adrenal glands to go into overdrive, which is not a relaxation-friendly state to be in. Check here for guidelines on how much caffeine is in your regular drink and how much you should be having.
10. Just… breathe
Mindful breathing has been a Buddhist relaxation technique for centuries and is perhaps the simplest and most underrated way to relax wherever you are, whatever the circumstance. For an easy 3 minute exercise, sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on the top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. Or, you can count breathing in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, out for the count of 4 (called 'Box breathing'). Deep breathing oxygenates your blood and helps centre your body and mind. There are plenty of You Tube videos on this!