Six stress-busting strategies

South Africa has the dubious honour of being the second most stressful country in the world to live in – that’s according to a 2013 study conducted by Bloomberg – so chances are you’re living with some level of stress, even if you’re not aware of it.

When is stress too much?

Stress not only impacts our physical health, but our mental and emotional health, too. Without proper management, it can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. If you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends, lists a few telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Depression
  • Bad eating habits
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use

Recognise any of these symptoms in your own life? Then it’s time to take action with these stress-beating strategies:

1. Get physical

Whether you’re a runner, you enjoy a game of squash after work, or you prefer the mind and body benefits of yoga, exercise triggers the release of feel-good endorphins and is an excellent way to get on top of your stress.

2. Manage your time

There are 168 hours in a week of which at least 56 should be for sleeping. That leaves just 112 hours in which to advance your career, look after the kids, spend time with your partner and see your friends. The bottom line? Sometimes you need to say ‘No’ to the demands others place on you and say ‘Yes’ to a less stressed existence.

3. Look after your health

You know the drill: Get enough of the good stuff – fruit, vegetables, protein and healthy fats – limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, stay hydrated, avoid tobacco and get enough sleep.

4. Take time out

The concept of ‘me’ time has become increasingly popular over the last few years and for good reason. We all need a break from routine, a few hours a week where we hop off the hamster wheel and do something that energises us – whether that’s having a massage, reading a book or meeting a good friend for a chat. Make this a priority, not just a nice to have.

5. Get support

Never underestimate the importance of friends and family. Everyone needs support from time to time and being around the people you love most is good for your emotional and mental health.

6. Listen up

Listening to relaxing music has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart rate and helps alleviate anxiety. Alternatively, put on your favourite playlist and de-stress while you dance.

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