A woman with long dark hair laying on her back on a bed with a salmon jumper on. Her hands are clenched in fists and are covering her face and eyes

Is it possible to lower your stress levels in as little as 10 minutes a day? We are about to find out.

What is stress? 

Stress is the body’s response to environmental conditions. Work pressure, surgery, peak hour traffic, finances and relationships can all cause stress in the body. Stress can be described as feeling overwhelmed or worried. The body responds to stress by producing and secreting the hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin increases; heart rate, and the force of muscle contraction and respiration whereas cortisol inhibits the body’s ability to digest food and lowers the immune system.

The effects of stress on the body 

  • Impairs digestion and contributes to inflammation
  • Depletes beneficial bacteria in the large intestine
  • Weakens the immune system
  • Low mood/depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

5 ways to reduce stress 

  • Diet
    • Improve digestion and reduce inflammation by feeding your brain healthy fats; and your microbiome fibre and fermented foods. A handful of nuts mixed through yoghurt will work a treat.
  • Exercise
    • Exercise and gentle stretching are shown to have multiple positive effects on the body, including the reduction of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The Department of Health recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity each week. This could include walking to work from the train station, weight-based training or kicking the football.
  • Getting outdoors and connecting with nature
    • Studies have found that natural environments improve health and well-being by reducing feelings of stress. People with more access to the outdoors, for example, parks, gardens or the ocean, experienced less stress compared to individuals without access or limited access. Stress-reducing outdoor activities include hiking, gardening, walking along the beach and sports such as cricket.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction. As little as 10 minutes is shown to help control stress levels, decrease anxiety and improve cardiovascular health. Headspace makes meditation easy but offers free guided mediation online.
  • Relaxation
    • Slow deep regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. If you feel stressed, take a few minutes to try the following breathing technique:
      • Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out filling your diaphragm with air
      • Hold your breath briefly 
      • Exhale slowly thinking “relax” 
      • Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times

Got 10? What you can do right now to reduce your stress levels

Go for a walk, have a snack, turn on your Headspace app or take some deep breaths. Got longer? Do them all and reap the calming and mood-boosting benefits all day long😊

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