Stress is a natural physical and mental response to life events. In life-threatening, acute situations, stress can be beneficial in helping you cope with potentially serious situations.
However, when stress levels stay elevated for longer periods of time, it can take a toll on your health and negatively impact your digestion, nervous system, hormones, immunity and cardiovascular system. To minimise the negative impacts of chronic stress on your health, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope and make them a part of daily life.
KEEP MOVING WITH GENTLE EXERCISE
Regular exercise supports nervous and cardiovascular system function and reduces the negative effects of stress by increasing endorphins (our feel-good hormones). When you are suffering from mental and/or physical fatigue, it is best to avoid high intensity exercise, and instead opt for more gentle forms of physical activity like walking, swimming and yoga.
Did you know?
Depression symptoms reduce by approximately 50% after just three months of regular yoga practice (It’s Official: Yoga Helps Depression | Time)
DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
Take some time off each week to do something you enjoy. It could be something small like cooking a favourite meal, calling a friend, listening to a podcast or your favourite music, or simply having a cup of tea. Prioritise self-care and block out time for you!
HAVE SOME TECH-FREE TIME
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the constant barrage of technology and it can certainly add to your mental stress load. Set times during your week when you put all screens aside and reclaim time for the things that mean the most in life.
PRACTICE BREATHING DEEPLY
Diaphragmatic breathing is an effective tool for reducing stress and boosting energy by allowing you to shift and release negative energy instead of storing it in your body. Sitting or lying down, exhale through your mouth. Then closing your mouth, inhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 6 seconds. Open your mouth and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Spending time outdoors or in nature can help shift negative emotions and release stress by helping you breathe easier and think clearly. You might like to go for a bush walk, do some gardening or simply sit in the sunshine for 10 minutes and boost your Vitamin D!
STAY SOCIALLY CONNECTED
Connecting with loved ones can help boost your mood and relieve stress. Friends and family can also be a great support in times of stress and help you overcome feelings of isolation.
PRACTISE MEDITATION OR MINDFULNESS
Regularly practising meditation and mindfulness reduces activity in the part of your brain that is central to switching on your stress response, helping reduce your background level of stress and improve focus. Some useful Apps for practising meditation or mindfulness include: Smiling Mind (www.smilingmind.com.au), Calm (www.calm.com) and Headspace (www.headspace.com).