8 easy ways to combat stress

Sometimes the world seems to throw too much work your way. But don't let stress get the better of you - try these eight simple techniques to keep your cool.

1. Make sleep a priority

Sleep is essential for clearing the mind, it helps you process all that you have learned the day before and is essential for good brain and body function the following day. 

Prioritise sleep quality by adopting a consistent bedtime that ensures you get the right length of sleep to rejuvenate your mind and body each night.

2. Drink less caffeine

Reducing caffeinated and alcoholic drinks may help reduce the stress placed on your body and improve sleep and recovery.

3. Focus on the positives

Increase positive emotions by noting one thing you appreciate each day. Increasing your level of positive emotion can be another important step in balancing emotions overall and in helping the mind function in a more open and responsive way. 

4. Be kind

Another good way to do this is to do something kind for someone else. It may be something small but this can have a significant impact on the other person’s sense of wellbeing and positivity as well as your own.

5. Exercise regularly

Performing light exercise, ideally outdoors can also be really beneficial in helping maintain your levels of resilience and positive mood. This can be anything you choose that you will find interesting, fun and challenging. It should make you aware that you are breathing a bit harder than usual but you should still be able to talk. Doing this with a friend can make this more fun and rewarding.

6. Breathe in, breathe out

Performing deep breathing exercises with a focus on your heart or breath can help to 'reset' your mind so that we can become better able to focus on the task in hand.

Perform the six-breath test: Sit quietly and breathe at a rate of around five seconds in, five seconds out for six breaths, focusing on your heart or feeling of breathing. This can help bring the function of the brain in sync with the heart and body.

Doing this prior to new tasks, demanding situations and at times when you feel more tense and anxious can be a key step in helping optimise emotional experience and mental focus.

7. Take breathing a step further

Try performing a ‘quick coherence’ session, combining deep breathing with positive emotions. Here, you carry out the breathing exercise as above. Then, make a sincere attempt to experience an uplifting, positive feeling like care or appreciation for someone or something in your life.

Try and focus strongly on that feeling for two-three minutes. Combining this with heart-focused breathing may come more easily with practice. You could make time to do this for five-ten minutes every day as a way of ‘training’ your coherence levels even further.

You could even try a ‘Coherent Day’ by performing the heart-focused breathing exercise for one minute every hour and note how you feel.

8. Be aware of 'pressure points'

Write down ‘pressure points’ in a typical day and purposefully perform the above breathing technique beforehand to prepare yourself by increasing your level of coherence and focus.

Last updated Wednesday 24 February 2021