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5 ways to reduce everyday stress

Friday, April 10, 2015

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Taking five minutes for a cup of tea could help reduce stress

Most people experience stress at some point in their life, with around 43 per cent of adults experiencing health effects as a result.

Stress can result in a range of physical illnesses, including headaches, heart problems, high blood pressure and skin conditions. It can also impact you negatively in a mental way, as stress is often a precursor to depression and anxiety.

With this in mind, it is important to do what you can to reduce your stress levels every day. This can help you cope with the things stressing you out, while also protecting your health and wellbeing.

So how can you do this?

Deep breathing

Stopping and taking a few deep breaths is more effective at reducing stress than you might think.

Stress and anxiety can be reduced by the lowered cortisol - a hormone related to stress - levels in your blood that come as a result of deep breathing. Simply taking a couple of minutes to slow your breathing down can also help to reduce blood pressure temporarily.

You may also find that deep breathing allows you to focus and relax, which will help you approach problems in a calmer way.

A cup of tea

You might think that a cup of tea for stress is an old wives' tale or that the effects are psychosomatic; however, there is actually a chemical reason behind tea reducing stress.

A study performed by the University College London found that drinking black tea regularly helped to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, even after experiencing a stressful event.

It was found that cortisol levels after a stressful event among participants that drank black tea reduced by around 47 per cent, compared to the 27 per cent drop among those who drank a placebo.

This means that having a cup of tea when you're feeling stressed could help you to relax.

Regular exercise

Taking part in regular exercise, even mild exercise, helps reduce stress in a number of ways. As well as helping to stretch out muscles, relieving knots, the endorphins released during exercise can help to counter the effects of stress.

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that boost your mood and make you feel good, reducing anxiety, improving sleep and helping you overcome mild depression; all of which lead to reduced stress levels.

Chew gum

A study actually found that chewing gum can help to reduce stress, meaning that carrying a pack around with you can help you feel calmer during anxiety-increasing periods.

Just as with black tea, it was found that cortisol levels in the blood were reduced at times of psychological stress by chewing gum.

A laboratory test found that individuals who chewed gum during a series of multitasking activities experienced higher levels of alertness, better overall performance and lower stress levels.

Have a hug

As well as being comforting, hugs can actually help reduce stress. Regular hugging has been found to result in a drop in blood pressure, decreased heart rate and lowered cortisol levels.

It is a particularly good method of stress reduction for women, who seem to have greater physical responses to regular hugs.

Hugging also helps to increase levels of the stress-busting hormone oxytocin, offering further benefits.

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