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5 Ways to Manage Stress

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We all experience some level of stress on a daily basis. Low levels of stress can motivate us and help improve our performance, but too much stress can have negative implications for our physical health and mental wellbeing. It can cause gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, anxiety and can even affect our memory. The great news is, however, that with a few lifestyle tweaks it is possible to banish the undesirable effects of stress from our lives. These five tips will help you rediscover your inner zen:

1. Jog your way to a runner's high

In fact, any kind of exercise that raises your heart rate can work well to give you an endorphin rush. Endorphins are the body's natural painkiller and feel good chemical. A workout before a particularly stressful day or at the end of a tense day in the office can help raise your mood and help you sleep. The repetitive motion of exercise can put your mind into a meditative state and help you forgot your worries. Raising your heart rate can even reverse damage to your brain caused by too much stress. What have you got to lose?

2. Make a list

If you have one or more big problems that you are worrying about why not try to break them down into smaller chunks. Making a list can help organise your thoughts and make the problems seem more manageable and less overwhelming

3. Be positive

Try to laugh and be jolly. Humour reduces the stress response that your body has initiated. A good belly laugh stops stress in its tracks. Smiling and laughing also produces more of those feel-good endorphins as well as reducing stress hormones like cortisol. You could try meeting with friends who always make you laugh or watching your favourite comedy. This really doesn't feel like a chore, does it?

4. Appreciate the good things

Just before bed at the end of each day, try writing a short list of good things that have happened that day, no matter how small. Showing gratitude for things that have gone well in this way can serve to improve your mood and help you sleep well. Doing this each night helps nurture a positive frame of mind.

5. Eat well

The food you fuel your body with can dramatically influence your mood over time. Eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day has a direct link with increased happiness. Other food that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling include dark chocolate that can lower stress hormones, carbohydrates to increase serotonin production which boosts mood and decreases stress and omega 3 in oily fish which enables better connection between nerve cells. Warm drinks such as herbal teas and warm milk are soothing when you're having a stressful time.

We can't always control the amount of stress that comes our way but we can learn to handle it better in order to improve our wellbeing and live a happier, healthier life.

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