Stress is a common part of our daily lives, but it doesn’t have to control us.
Too much stress can negatively impact your body, mood, and your relationships. It can lead to feelings of anxiety and even lower self-esteem. 74% of people in the UK have reported feeling so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. The research shows us that stress frequently leads to the development of unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, and excessive eating.1https://championhealth.co.uk/insights/stress-statistics/
Managing stress effectively is essential for your physical and mental well-being. Here are nine tips for coping with stress and calming the feeling of chaos –
1. Identify the cause
The first step in managing stress is to pinpoint its source. Is it work-related, relationship issues, digestive symptoms, or something else entirely? Knowing what causes your stress or anxiety will help to resolve it. If you’re unsure, keep a diary noting everything that stresses you for two weeks. This can reveal patterns and triggers, shedding light on the areas of your life that may need attention and adjustment.
2. Prioritise sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone! Approximately one-third of individuals in the UK experience episodes of insomnia at some stage.2https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insomnia/ Stress and sleep have what is called a “reciprocal” cycle. This means that stress can cause poor sleep, and similarly, a lack of sleep can cause changes to the stress response.3https://thesleepdoctor.com/mental-health/stress-and-sleep/ It’s a frustrating loop to be trapped in!
Establish and maintain a good bedtime routine, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Try to limit screen time before bed, create a comfortable sleep environment, practice meditation and mindfulness, eat your dinner early, and avoid alcohol and nicotine at least four hours before bedtime. Getting enough sleep will increase oxytocin and help you manage stress better.
Check out our articles Are you trapped in the Sleep-Stress Cycle? and The original chill pill: 3 ways magnesium can help you sleep for more help!
3. Practice meditation and mindfulness
Practising mindfulness, and even engaging in cognitive behavioural therapy, can minimise stress hormones and help tackle rumination. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are excellent practices to cultivate mindfulness. These breathing practices can help clear your mind, reduce your heart rate, oxygenate your body, and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
4. Keep active
Exercising and keeping active will boost your happy hormones, make you feel good, and improve your sleep too! Regular physical exercise has been proven to boost serotonin, dopamine and endorphins (the happy hormones).4https://www.healthline.com/health/happy-hormone#exercise Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a workout at the gym, exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural mood lifters. Remember, the best exercise is the one you enjoy and will regularly stick to!
5. Get organised
A cluttered environment can lead to a cluttered mind. Organise your living and working spaces to create a sense of order and control. Plan your week, prioritise your tasks and break them into manageable chunks – this can help minimise stress and anxiety. An organised life can reduce feelings of overwhelm. Don’t forget to schedule some leisure time into your week!
6. Eat the rainbow
A balanced diet plays a significant role in stress management. Focus on a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure you meet your vitamin, mineral, and fibre requirements. Foods rich in antioxidants, like berries and leafy greens, can help combat the physical effects of stress on your body. Aim to eat as many different colours, and sources of each colour as you can throughout the week. Take a look at some of our favourite Gut-Brain friendly recipes for some inspiration!
7. Nourish your gut
Managing stress is easier said than done, but did you know that the “gut-brain axis” has an essential role here?5https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/your-very-own-miracle-drug-how-your-gut-health-impacts-your-daily-life-and-fights-chronic-diseases/ Maintaining a balanced and diverse microbiome will support immune function, reduce inflammation, and improve your mood. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like Chuckling Goat Kefir and other fermented foods can support a healthy gut microbiome. We recommend a synbiotic approach – find the recipe for our Gut-Brain Health Smoothie here. A healthy gut can mean a less anxious, more focused you.
8. Spend time with loved ones
As the old proverb goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Spending time with your friends and loved ones is good for your mind, and body, and gives you the opportunity to talk through things.
Laughing with your close ones will also naturally reduce levels of cortisol, and boost serotonin6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28536272/ and dopamine levels, and releases endorphins7https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/endorphins-the-brains-natural-pain-reliever.
9. Hug your furry friends
Saving the best for last – cuddle your furry friends 🐶 Contact with pets has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in humans, and hugging a pet can increase oxytocin levels! Oxytocin is the hormone that promotes bonding and reduces stress8https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/oxytocin-the-love-hormone.. not that we needed an excuse to hug our furry friends!
Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.