A poll conducted by Cosmopolitan towards the end of last year revealed that almost three-quarters (that's 71 per cent) of UK women have suffered with some form of stress or anxiety at some point in their lives.The majority of these women admitted that work was a major culprit, and 40 per cent admitted they'd even sought professional help to help deal with their symptoms.Stress can be brought on by so many different factors, whether it's work life, home life, money troubles or relationship problems, dealing with stress or anxiety alone can be a difficult burden to bear.
Many of us have to deal with stressful situations on a daily basis, but if you don't know how to manage those symptoms properly, those niggling, woeful worries can quite often bubble under the surface until they've got nowhere else to go, and that's when many of us feel we've reached breaking point.Believe it or not, stressed minds can have a huge affect on our physical health, including headaches, digestive issues, muscle cramps and food cravings/loss of appetite. So it's all about keeping that balance on an even keel.From controlling your sugar levels to having a good old laugh, our expert advice on dealing with stress and anxiety will make stress management a total breeze.
1. Control your sugar levels
'Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is key to stabilisingmood. Ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and cravings for sweet foods. As the blood sugar steadies, so will the mood swings – reduced adrenaline levels will automatically make you feel happier and calmer inside.' says Dr Marilyn Glenville, nutritionist, and author of The Nutritional Health Handbook for Women.'Chose your snacks wisely – soybeans, dark chocolate, bananas and avocado are a good source of magnesium, which helps with efficient energy production while also helping to calm the nervous system. Whole-grain carbs, such as rye crisp breads, help regulate levels of serotonin, the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter that helps us remain calm,' adds Shona Wilkinson, Head
2. Have a laugh!
'Having a laugh is one of the best remedies for stress – it triggers healthy changes in our body. Many studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones, improves immunity and diminishes pain. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed,' explains Dr Glenville.
3. Spring into a new routine
Ok, we're not saying jump into your cozzie and take up water skiing just yet — it is only spring after all! But restricting exercise to certain times of day can have a profound effect on your the way that you feel. Exercising too late at night will get the adrenaline flowing, so you won't be able to sleep. It's best to keep vigorous exercise like running or aerobics to the daytime, and indulge in more relaxing activities like yogain the evening, to help calm your mind and stretch out those muscles.Dr Glenville recommends that: 'around 30 minutes of light exercise a day can help boost energy levels significantly and in turn can help you feel less stressed.
4. Eat the right foods
A simple change in diet can work wonders on boosting your mood. Certain foods will naturally boost serotonin levels, so will release that feel-good factor we all crave when we're feeling a little low. Stock up on foods such as dairy, fish, bananas, dried dates, soya, almonds and peanuts, as these will encourage a natural release of serotonin to help regulate your mood. These are best paired with unrefined carbohydrates like brown rice, wholemeal bread and oats, this will help the body to 'release insulin to help take tryptophan (which produces serotonin) up to the brain.' says Dr Glenville.
5. 'B' happy
'Certain nutrients can be very helpful in reducing stress levels, such as B vitamins, especially B5 for stress relief and energy, magnesium (nature's tranquiliser) for relaxation and sleep, chromium for blood sugar balance, L-theanine for reducing anxiety and finally Siberian Ginseng, which acts as a tonic to the adrenal glands,' explains Dr Glenville.
6. Feel focused
Feeling swamped, with what seems like a never-ending to do list? If you feel calm and focused then tackling every day tasks won't seem so challenging. Take a moment to breatheand reboot. Try some mindful meditation exercises for at least 10 minutes a day to help boost your physical and mental focus. Or try listening to some uplifting songs to help switch your mind into a much happier mental state.