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Simple strategies for managing stress

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Stress, burnout, overwhelm; call it what you like, we all go through turbulent times and it doesn't feel great. The good news is there are plenty of stress management techniques that can help you steer your ship back to calmer waters. Here’s a start.

How you respond to stress

Life experiences  and genetics play a role in how you perceive and regulate stress. 

At different times stress may feel beyond your control, but there are ways to manage it and improve your sense of wellbeing. Knowing what your triggers are can help you to create stress-relief techniques that are right for you. 

Strategies for coping include humour, yoga, reading a book, listening to music, volunteering and fostering friendships. 

Here are a few other ideas. 

3 simple stress management techniques

1. Move more to stress less

When we're stressed, the body releases cortisol and adrenalin, so aiming to lower those fight-flight hormones can be part of your stress-management plan. 

Unsurprisingly, one of the best remedies is exercise. Exercise raises the body’s natural mood boosters, endorphins, which will help flush out those stress chemicals. Getting your blood pumping with some regular physical stimulation is also shown to reduce anxiety  and improve sleep.

2. Switch off and get outside

Forest bathing, known in Japan as Shinrin-yoku, and described as 'taking in the atmosphere of a forest', helps to reduce stress and invoke a sense of calm. 

Put simply, it’s the act of disconnecting from devices and getting out into nature to induce a state of relaxation. In that case, switching off your devices and getting outside is a great way to stop, restore and reset. 

3. Take a deep, conscious breath

Even as something as simple as conscious breathing can be a real stress-buster. 

Our breath  tends to become more shallow when we’re under pressure, so by doing a few rounds of deep breathing you'll take in more oxygen, which in turn can help relieve stress.

Relieve stress with meditation

Regular mindfulness meditation is also proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. 

By practising mindfulness each day, we can begin to alleviate anxiety and flick the mental-stress switch from 'high' to 'low'.

Here are three ways to bring mindfulness into your daily life and help reduce stress.

1. Mindful eating meditation

Eat at least one meal with no distractions. Turn off your phone, the TV and the radio. 

Give yourself permission to consume the entire meal with no talking and focus on every morsel of your meal. 

Taste the flavours, feel the texture and take in the details of every single bite.

2. Walking meditation

This form of mindfulness is less about hiking over a distance to burn kilojoules and more about paying attention to your body as it moves through space and time. 

You can even do this at home by pacing up and down (slowly) over a short distance. 

The idea is to focus on the ground under your feet. Feel the breeze against your face. 

Slow it down as much as you can and if any thoughts arise, let them go and bring your awareness back to your body: observe the swing of the arms, the bend of the knee and so on.

3. Breathing meditation

The beauty of breathing meditation is that you can literally do it anywhere. 

Set an alarm  for one minute and do nothing but count your breaths. When you reach 10, go back to one and start again. 

Repeat over and over until the minute is up. Carry out any (or all) of the above whenever you’re seeking relief from stress. 

Alternatively follow this grounding meditation with Kate Kendall to help you slow down and stress less.

Looking for more ways to manage stress? Discover how simple diet and lifestyle tips can help you do just that in 3 easy steps.

Action plan | 3 ways to stress less