5 stress busting tips

Many of us have experienced stress – the feeling of butterflies in our stomach or a racing heart rate. Stress is our body’s natural response to threat or danger. When we experience an event we perceive as stressful, this triggers our fight or flight response and our adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone, preparing our body for action.

Surprisingly, stress can be both good and bad. Small amounts of stress can help us to feel focused and motivated [1]. The problem comes when we’re stressed for long periods of time or we experience lots of stressful events. This can have an impact on your mental health and blood glucose levels.

So, how can we cope with stress? Here are some tips you may find helpful:

Reduce caffeine

Caffeine can sometimes cause us to feel more stressed as it stimulates the nervous system to produce more cortisol. Consider either switching to decaff and take regular breaks to stay alert.

Keep up a good diet

Stress raises blood glucose levels and can often lead to cravings for sugary high carb foods. There is evidence to suggest that sugar can worsen symptoms of anxiety so it’s easy to see how this can become a vicious cycle [2]. Switching to a low carbohydrate diet can help to regulate mood and blood sugar levels [3]

Keep active during the day

Alongside improving our ability to cope with stress, exercise stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins which can help to reduce anxiety and maintain positive wellbeing [4].

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a relaxation technique that can help to bring your attention back to the present moment and away from negative thoughts. It has been found to be beneficial at reducing stress and improving wellbeing [5].

Stay organised

Breaking down big jobs into small manageable tasks can help you feel more organised and reduce your chances of feeling stressed. For example, it might help to make a to-do list and rank each task in order of importance.

 

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References:

[1]   Sapolsky, R.M., 2004. Why zebras don’t get ulcers: The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases, and coping-now revised and updated. Holt paperbacks.

[2]   Avena, N.M., Bocarsly, M.E., Rada, P., Kim, A. and Hoebel, B.G., 2008. After daily bingeing on a sucrose solution, food deprivation induces anxiety and accumbens dopamine/acetylcholine imbalance. Physiology & behavior94(3), pp.309-315.

[3]   El-Mallakh, R.S. and Paskitti, M.E., 2001. The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties. Medical hypotheses57(6), pp.724-726.

[4]   Salmon, P., 2001. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clinical psychology review21(1), pp.33-61

[5]   Sharma, M. and Rush, S.E., 2014. Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a stress management intervention for healthy individuals: a systematic review. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine19(4), pp.271-286.