We all know that long-term stress is bad, but what can you do if your to-do list is long but you’re short on time?
Here are our top seven quick wins for busting stress.
1. Invest in your mental health in the same way you do your physical health
If you want to learn how to improve your physical health, you hire a trainer to show you how. Your psychological well-being should be no different. Managing mental health is a skill, and the best way to learn this skill is through professional guidance and a robust feedback loop. If you don’t have a reliable support network, opting for talking therapies is a solid investment in your long-term health.
2. Improve your sleep QUALITY
Psychological resilience, the ability to withstand setbacks, adapt positively to challenges and bounce back from adversities, appears to have a relationship with sleep quality and quantity.
- While aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night should be universal, if that’s not realistic for you, then the following should be your next areas of focus.
- Create a consistent sleep routine, waking and going to sleep at roughly the same time each day.
- Reduce or cut out exposure to blue light in the hours before bed.
- Set a bedtime alarm and avoid doing work or chores within the hour before sleeping. If that’s not possible, aim for at least 20-30 minutes before bed.
- If you don’t sleep in a completely dark room, invest in blackout blinds or an eye mask.
- Supplements can help support lifestyle change and provide the micronutrients needed to maximise sleep quality. Magnesium is often referred to as a useful staple in any natural sleep aids.
3. Get outside more
Studies have found that sleep quality, stress, and life satisfaction improve alongside the implementation of walking. The results of the study showed that daily walking improved sleep quality and provided psychological benefits. While there is no ‘magic number’, setting a baseline of 10,000 steps per day is a good baseline to improve body composition and boost your sleep. It’s also an easy way to increase your daylight exposure. While all daylight exposure appears to improve self-perceived measures of mood and sleep, daylight before midday brings the biggest benefits.
4. Try to eat healthier
Highly inflammatory diets, usually containing high amounts of processed foods, put your body on the back foot for dealing with the additional stresses of day-to-day life. There are studies that indicate a high intake of trans fats may be related to stress and anxiety levels.
In addition, a poor diet can disrupt gut bacteria and further affecting resilience and the production of vital neurotransmitters for mental health. Inversely, diets rich in high-quality proteins, fibrous vegetables, and healthy fats reduce systemic inflammation and improve the body’s immune response. A high intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help protect against stress due to their ability to fight oxidative stress.
5. Make yourself bullet proof
Evidence shows that activities such as resistance training and even cold therapy can lift your mood and enhance your ability to deal with stress. Research into mood disorders found that whole-body cryotherapy improved mood scores by up to 50% in outpatients with depressive and anxiety disorders. You might not have a cryo-chamber at home but taking a cold shower for up to five minutes, two-to-three times per week, has been shown to relieve depressive symptoms*. Likewise, other data show that regular physical exercise, specifically resistance training, reduces physiological reactivity to psychosocial stress. Combines those two activities with some meditation and breathing techniques and you’ll be far more robust.
*Shevchuk, N.A., (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical Hypotheses, 70 (5), pp. 995-1001.
6. Chose your investments wisely
If you have a hectic lifestyle, meditation or stress management may fall low on the priority list. But investing in taking effective downtime not only prevents stress from building to uncontrollable levels, it increases your overall productivity. A 2012 study explored the effects of long-term meditation on cognitive performance in adults aged 55 and over.
The results showed that concentrative meditation significantly improved cognitive performance. More recent research into resilience among executives also found that participants who engaged in meditative practices had significantly higher resilience scores than those who did not.
If time’s an issue, destress in under five minutes using the ‘box-breathing’ method:
- Breathe in, counting to four slowly. Aim to expand your lungs as much as possible.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for four seconds, aiming to expel all the air.
- Repeat steps one to three for a minimum of two minutes.
7. Make time to socialise
Close and supportive relationships with family and friends can improve your self-worth, lower depressive symptoms, and help you feel accepted. When you have people to lean on for emotional support and do enriching activities with, you’re less likely to struggle with depression and anxiety. Singing for example is great for anxiety and depression – don’t believe us read this article.
Men generally report lower stress levels than women, but it’s clear from male mental health statistics that stress remains an important issue for both men and women. And as well as its psychological effects, unmanaged stress increases has serious consequences for physical health. You’re unlikely to start living a completely stress-free life any time soon, but simple hacks can go a long way to keeping things feeling more manageable.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you’re struggling with stress. Below is a list of external service providers you can contact.
- The Samaritans : To talk about anything upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone),
- Sussex Mental Healthline: 0800 0309 500. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Worthing Counselling Centre: If you are in need of counselling support please ring us on 01903 212275 or 07565 546604, or email us
- CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably
- Father’s Reaching Out, Father’s Mental Health
- Men’s Sheds UK – Support for Lonely Older Men
- West Sussex Mind
This article was taken from an article written by Ultimate Performance