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Taking steps to de-stress

>Breathe like you mean it:

If you feel yourself becoming stressed, try to relax your whole body and take deep, slow breaths. Inhale for three seconds and exhale a little longer. Continue until you feel calmer.

>Eat well to feel well:

Your diet can affect your mood and your body's ability to fight stress and anxiety. Eat a regular, balanced diet to give you the nutrition you need to deal with ups and downs.

>Don't drink to forget:

A little alcohol, especially shared with friends, can help you unwind, but stick to recommended limits. Overdoing it can affect your health and add to your daily stress levels.

>Smoking is choking:

Despite what many people believe, smoking does not reduce stress. In fact, cigarettes can increase your stress levels in the short term and your overall health will suffer in the longer term. Get help to quit smoking and life will seem rosier before you know it.

>'Exercise' the demons:

Regular doses of exercise will encourage your brain to release serotonin, a natural 'feel-good' hormone that helps you feel on top of life's challenges. Exercise also lets you channel anger and frustration constructively. Try to do 30 minutes, five times a week of yoga, walking, running, swimming or cycling. Whatever you chose to do, start slowly and build up your fitness levels.

>Sleep deeply:

A healthy sleep pattern can be the first casualty of stress. Try to relax before you go to bed. Incorporating exercise and healthy eating into your day will help you to switch off when your head hits the pillow.

>Wake up, but don't smell the coffee:

Caffeine in coffee, tea and cola drinks can increase the body's response to stress. Too much caffeine can make you irritable, anxious and restless. Cut back to help keep calm.

>Relax, just do it:

Take time out to relax when things get tough. Tackle stress by relaxing tense muscles and transporting your mind to a tranquil place for a few minutes to calm your senses. Don't be afraid to set aside some 'me time' in a busy week -- read an indulgent book, take a walk in the park, steep your body in a warm bath or catch up with friends who make you laugh.

>Talk the talk:

Just talking to someone about how you feel can often help identify what's stressing you. Learn to express yourself and build healthier relationships with friends and family. You and those around you will soon reap the benefits.


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