How to lower stress levels

Is work or your home life stressing you out? In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress can affect us in numerous ways, both physically and emotionally. Stress can affect our emotions, thoughts, behaviour and how our body works. It can cause sleep problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

Reduce your consumption of caffeine and alcohol
Try to avoid or reduce, your consumption of drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant, which will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Alcohol is a depressant when drunk in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant when consumed in smaller quantities. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water or herbal teas to keep your body hydrated.

Don’t ditch your exercise routine
When we are stressed, the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body increase. Exercise can help to stabilise excessive stress hormones, and restore your wellbeing to a calmer state. Being physically active won’t make your stress disappear altogether, however, as the endorphins are released as you exercise, it helps you to feel better and maintain a positive attitude. Choose a sport or exercise class that you like, and keep it up on a regular basis.

Try to better your sleep
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress; however, stress also interrupts our sleep as our minds keep going around in circles. Sleep and stress can be a vicious cycle where one impairs the other, which can heighten all of our emotions and make things seem worse than they are. Maximise relaxation techniques before going to bed and make your bedroom a safe stress-free space. Have a warm bath, read an easy book, or listen to some calming music, to help you destress and enter a relaxed mindset.

Eat your way to lower stress
When it comes to stress, what you eat can impact your mood. Some foods can stabilise your blood sugar levels, and your response to emotional situations. Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a chemical that helps you keep calm. Foods containing protein like turkey, are very good as the amino acid (tryptophan) which is found in protein helps produce serotonin, the chemical that regulates feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Other foods containing tryptophan includes nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and eggs.

Find your happy stress-free place
Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you are down and everything seems tough, try to find happiness in the simplest of things. If you enjoy walking go for a walk, catch up with an old friend, read your favourite book or watch that film you have been meaning to see for ages; or if you like art then paint, draw, or use the colour mindfulness books.