Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. That’s why, if we want to learn how to reduce stress, we need more than a few ideas.

Here are five stress-relieving tips you can incorporate into your daily life.


EASY AS HACK

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is the perfect way to reduce stress no matter where or when you’re feeling the strain. Simply breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breath for 7 seconds and exhale through pursed lips for 8 seconds. Repeat up to 4 times and you should feel tension melt away.1

AT A GLANCE

  1. The best way to reduce stress is using a range of techniques that fit around your lifestyle.
  2. Reframing your thinking about the simplest things can add a sense of purpose and wellbeing to your day.
  3. Reducing stress is a human need and often a two-way street: by reducing your stress levels you may well be helping others around you.

1. Make movement part of your working day

We’ve all heard of exercise as a way to reduce stress but finding time for a workout can be tough. Visits to the gym or sessions with personal trainers are a luxury and one of the first things to suffer when busy schedules demand so much of our time. One way fit more exercise into your life is to incorporate it into your working day.

Cycling into the office, jumping off the bus a few stops before your destination and walking, or using your lunchbreak for a stroll – they all count as exercise and can help you to feel less stressed. Movement of any kind can make a significant dent in your stress levels, as it reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.2

You might find yourself saving on gym memberships and travel costs too. Win-win.

2. Let your devices manage your screen time

There’s a strong link between spending time in front of screens and poor mental wellbeing. And yet, the average screen time for people around the world aged 16 to 64 is 6 hours and 37 minutes a day3. With phones, laptops and tablets ingrained in our daily routines it can be hard to walk away from the digital world and experience something more tangible.

Thankfully, many of our most-used devices come with settings that help to restrict usage and give us greater peace of mind.

Forget leaving your phone in another room or letting the battery die so you can be ‘in the moment’: today there are a range of apps to suit your screen management preferences if default device options don’t have what you’re looking for.

3. Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is about focusing on our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations at mealtimes. Paying more attention to what we eat and where it comes from and even chewing more thoroughly, means we become more aware of our food and enjoy it more. Eating slowly can also help improve digestion.

Mindful eating isn’t about denying yourself treats (we all enjoy the off takeaway!). It’s about becoming more aware of our eating habits and helping us to make better food-based decisions. That’s a life hack we can all benefit from, multiple times a day.

If you need some extra stressbusting, try eating vegetables and omega-3 fats. Early research suggests that these foods help to cut down stress hormone levels.4

4. Rethink ‘me-time’

There’s no shortage of advice about the benefits of enjoying some ‘me time’. A hobby or self-care routine might help you to relax, but finding an activity that works for you can be tricky. Many of us are used to filling our time with life’s daily chores and time spent away from these ‘must do’ activities can feel indulgent. In fact you could find that time spent doing ‘nothing’ is the perfect way to switch off – the important thing is not to feel guilty about it.

If that’s not for you, then perhaps ‘me-time’ could take on a more productive guise. Whether it’s clearing out a wardrobe of old clothes or scanning and organising old family photos. The satisfaction of ticking off an item from your ‘I’ll get to it eventually’ list shouldn’t be underestimated.

5. Regularly reach out to others

Connecting with people is one of the best ways to manage stress. It can give you an opportunity to share your problems and build a sense of belonging. Rather than seeking out entertainment from your phone or the TV, try setting time aside to talk to the people you care about the most. You’ll probably find you both appreciate the company.

Providing emotional support is a two-way street, so offering a friendly ear to someone else in need can also feel immensely rewarding. Volunteering at a local school, hospital or community group could give you a tremendous sense of wellbeing and seeing the difference you can make in-person rather than over a video call can make all the difference to your stress levels. You can find out more about volunteering opportunities on the GOV.UK website.

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Sources

1 - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324417#how-to-do-it
2 - https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
3 - https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-global-overview-report
4 - https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/11/1606