Stress-bust Your Life Today

South Africa’s stress levels are up by 56% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.25 It’s no surprise that the pandemic has exacerbated stress levels as we’re all dealing with unprecedented stress triggers and juggling an enormous amount of pressure.25 Let’s talk about small changes we can make in our daily lives to shift the energy so that we can cope a little better!

1. Get moving26

Not only does physical activity lift the mood but it can help to improve sleep quality and better sleep definitely helps stress management!

Research shows that people who exercise tend to have better quality sleep than those that are more sedentary. (Just try and exercise earlier in the day as exercise too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect!)

Part of the reason why exercise lifts the mood is its effect on hormones. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins and endocannabinoids that help to block pain, improve sleep and create a feeling of calm.

Get a dose of stress relief naturally by incorporating activity into your day, every day. Running, swimming, dancing and cycling are all excellent ways to get moving so that you can experience the benefits.

2. Eat well

When under stress it’s not always easy to make healthy meal choices. In fact one often reaches for the quick-fix, often sugar-laden, options for a pick-me-up. This isn’t a good long-term plan!

The impact of a poor diet goes beyond the waistline and affects mental wellbeing too. Strengthen your immune system, reduce the impact of stress, enjoy balanced moods and lowered blood pressure when you make healthy food choices.26

We often know what we should be eating but sometimes we all need a gentle reminder to get us back on track!

3. Take a deep breath

Breath is a powerful tool for stress management. Typically people make short, shallow breaths particularly when stressed or anxious and this in itself can make one feel worse.26

Keep this breathing exercise in the back of your mind for the next time you feel overwhelmed.26 It will only take a few minutes and you will certainly feel the difference!

Firstly, find a comfortable spot to lie down or simply sit in a comfy chair. Place your one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Slowly breathe in through your nose and let the air fill your lungs and expand your belly. Breathe out through your nose - even slower this time. In fact, try breathing in for a slow count of 4 and out for a slow count of 8. Repeat 8 times or for as long as feels beneficial for you. Then get on with your day once more with a renewed sense of confidence!

4. Incorporate a relaxation technique before bed27

Progressive muscle relaxation technique involves focusing on slowly tensing and releasing muscle groups throughout your body and can instill a sense of calm and relaxation. To help you sleep better, try this technique before you drift off to sleep at night.

Lie down in your bed, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths slowly expanding and contracting your belly as you breathe in and out.

Then, starting with a focus on your head and face muscles, work your way down your body slowly tensing and releasing each set of muscle groups.

Whilst you focus on a muscle group, tense and hold for around 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, then repeat with the next muscle set.

When you’re done simply keep your eyes closed and try to drift off to sleep immediately.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic your typical go-to stress busters like going out for a meal with friends, getting a massage or taking a yoga class may not be possible for you right now. These tips mentioned above can easily be incorporated into your day. The smallest changes can often reap the biggest rewards. Give them a try!
Feel the difference

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