Giving in to stress will just lead to an endless vicious cycle of anxiety, negativity and
unhappiness. Instead of living with constant panic, learning to manage your stress can reap
dozens of benefits for your mental and physical health. As discussed before, stress causes the
release of a hormone called cortisol, which can be harmful to the body in chronic levels.
Combat the stress with healthy habits that will get you back on track. Remember, it takes 21
days to make or break a habit – don’t throw in the towel too early and stick with it.

1) Eat a healthy balanced diet:
No, a cupcake in each hand is not a balanced diet! As food is strongly linked to mood,
consuming a diet rich in fruit, veggies, whole-grains, healthy fat and protein is key to lowering
cortisol. Avoiding cortisol-stimulating foods such as sugar, alcohol and high amounts of coffee
should also be implemented to lower stress levels through diet. Not only will adopting a healthier
diet influence your stress levels, it can also help with weight maintenance and disease
prevention. It is also important to note that a healthy balanced diet does not have to be
restrictive. Enjoy the cupcake in moderation!

2) Handle everything one thing at a time:
Time management is key to maintaining a feasible schedule. It can be easy to fall into the
procrastination trap, but there are many negative consequences for leaving everything until last-
minute. Tackle everything as it comes, and break up your to-do list into reasonable chunks that
you can manage everyday. There are 24 hours in a day – there is no such thing as not enough
time. Not only will this increase your productivity, it will also reduce the panic and stress that
happens when you fall behind.

3) Simplify and declutter:
Instead of packing your schedule with unnecessary activities that you can do without, reduce
the stress by cutting back. Whether it is an extra hour a day to yourself, or a few days a week,
having some time to kick back and relax can relieve stress and improve your energy levels.
Whether it is cutting back on work hours, or squeezing your gym schedule in your lunchtime
instead of using up your evening, shifting around your schedule will support effective stress
management.

4) Stay active:
Fitting in a few sessions of moderate-intensity exercise per week can significantly improve
mood, manage stress and optimise general health and wellbeing. Exercise has a myriad of
benefits, and mental health is definitely one of them. Not only will you feel more self-confident
and energised, exercise stimulates the production of ‘feel-good’ hormones that can support a

healthy mindset. Not only is it important to implement an exercise regimen, it is also vital to get
as much activity in your day as possible. Whether it is a 10 minute walk during lunch time or
using the stairs instead of the lift, there are many things you can do to stay on your feet and be
more active.

5) A positive mindset goes a long way
The most important tip of all – being more positive can make such a difference to your stress
levels. If you adopt a can-do attitude, nothing can stop you! Start your day on a good note by
thinking of 3 things you are grateful for, and 3 things that would make today a good day. Just 5
minutes of self-reflection can give you the boost necessary to carry on and seize the day.

 

Written by Salma Dawood – @salamidawood