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quick health tips: managing stress

"Looking Within" (2008) Etching on Stonehenge Paper © Jade Manly

“Looking Within” (2008) Etching on Stonehenge Paper © Jade Manly

According to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2014 conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, women reported significantly higher stress levels than men, with the top stressors including money, family and personal health.

Whilst daily hassles are a normal part of life, extreme stress levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. According to the Australian Psychological Society, ‘more women (21%) than men (13%) said that stress was strongly impacting their physical health.’

If your stress levels become overwhelming it is important to relax and look after yourself. Many young women are too embarrassed to ask for help, but you should never be scared of seeking professional assistance as it could save your life.

Here is a brief list of things you can do to manage your stress and increase your emotional wellbeing.

Banish toxic relationships
Negative people can make you feel tired, anxious and depressed. If someone in your life is making you feel unworthy or damaging your self-esteem, perhaps it is time to move on regardless of whether this person is your partner/spouse, friend or family member.

Our living environment can impact on the way we feel. Sometimes simple activities like moving around the furniture, painting the walls or cleaning out your wardrobe can make you feel less cramped and closed in, providing you with more space to do the things you enjoy.

Meditating for just 10 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure and increase circulation. Whilst meditation does not work for everyone it can be useful in clearing the mind and recharging your spirit.

Swap coffee and fizzy drinks for herbal tea
Excessive amounts of caffeine can make you feel tired and can cause insomnia. Herbal tea is a great alternative to coffee and caffeinated soft drinks and comes in a variety of flavours, like lemon, chamomile and ginger. Green tea is especially good for you as it is rich in flavonoids.

Ditch the junk food
If you are feeling stressed, junk food can lower your mood. Reduce the amount of takeaway you are eating and try to make healthier choices. Foods containing fish oil (or essential fatty acids), zinc and vitamin B are useful in reducing stress.

Regular exercise can boost your energy and drastically reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are particularly effective in controlling your breathing and relaxing your mind. According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia, ‘the amount of physical activity recommended for health benefits is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity’ per day.

Lavender oil
Lavender oil has many healing properties and can assist in relaxation. Lavender oil can be diluted with a carrier (such as almond, macadamia, avocado, jojoba or grape seed oil) and used for massage. When placed on the temples, lavender oil can reduce tension headaches or migraines. Lavender oil has a pleasant aroma when used in an oil burner, but do not leave unattended as it could be a fire hazard.

Take time out for you
Everybody needs some “me time” to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is never selfish to pamper yourself. Try a relaxing bath, sing to your favourite music, watch a movie, go for a walk or read a good book.

Talk to someone
If you are feeling stressed you may need to talk to someone you trust, it could be a friend, family member, counsellor or your GP. Do not ignore your body as extreme stress could be caused by an underlying health condition.

If you don’t have anyone to talk to there are a number of free phone counselling services and information resources available in Australia including:

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Salvo Careline: 1300 36 36 22
beyondblue: 1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

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