Our top tips to help with stress relief

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Stress is a normal part of human life, we can’t avoid it. We can encounter it every day, from being stuck in traffic and heavy work schedules, to tight finances and lack of down time. Stress is the root of many health conditions - scary, isn’t it? People respond in different ways, and although short-term and long-term stress manifests itself differently, either way, it affects the body negatively. It can cause anxiety, depression, moderate to chronic pain, increased heart rate, inflammation and weaken your body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other infections.

Stress management is about understanding and changing our reactions to stressful situations, and learning to do this well can help us lead a healthier, more productive, and ultimately happier life. So, here’s our top tips to help you deal with stress:

Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to help with stress relief. It reduces the levels of the body’s tension-causing hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in our brain that boost our mood, act as a natural pain killer and helps to improve sleep quality. We should be aiming to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.

Talking to someone: One of the best remedies for stress can often be simply talking to someone. The root cause of stress usually stems from an issue in your life, so talking through with a friend, family member, work colleague or therapist can put things into perspective and help you vent. Talking about what is causing you to become tense is a healthy and effective way of channeling your emotions and promoting a positive outlook through a network of support.

Sleep: Sleep and stress can cause a vicious cycle - too much stress can cause insomnia, which can only lead to you feeling worse. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the fundamental means to improve brain function and relieve pressure. If you have trouble falling asleep, try disconnecting from technology for an hour before bed, have a bath, read a book, practice deep breathing or use essential oils. We should be aiming to sleep around 8 hours per night.

Deep breathing: Shallow breathing has been linked to stress and anxiety, so one of the easiest and most immediate things you can do when feeling stressed and anxious is to breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths create more oxygen in the cells, which in turn activates a number of different nerves to create a relaxed state and improve energy levels.

Diet: During stressful times, we often reach for comfort foods such as ice cream, pizza and chocolate. Eating these foods are usually the worst choices to make because they leave us feeling lethargic and tired. Making positive food choices can impact your mood by boosting energy levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Try to include leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, berries, foods that are rich in good fats such as avocado and salmon, calming teas such as chamomile, and cut down on caffeine intake if you are feeling anxious. Remember to stay hydrated to help with energy levels, and brain function.

Have some fun: When was the last time you took time out for yourself? Being stressed can stop us doing the things we usually enjoy, and missing out on those things can cause additional stress. Make sure you take time to catch up with family and friends, enjoy a nice dinner or night out, or treat yourself to a massage. Did you know that New Zealand workers are among the most holiday deprived country in the world? No matter how busy you are, it’s important to have a healthy work-life balance and to take time out to reconnect with yourself, friends and loved ones. It’s no secret that a getaway does wonders for stress levels and makes you more focused when you return to work, so plan that next trip and prioritise your wellbeing!

This post is brought to you by nib New Zealand – because they know when it comes to looking after yourself, taking time out is just as important as the right health cover. Get a quote for health insurance with nib between now and the 28th of June 2018, and you’ll go in the draw to win a holiday worth $10,000 to Tokyo, Honolulu, Gold Coast, or your choice destination – enter here!