If left unchecked, stress can lead to a host of health problems in the long run. But when managed effectively, it can help you get ahead in life. Here are a few tips to help you deal with stress.
Exercise More Intensely
Nail that deadline by aiming high. “High-intensity exercise will not only improve your mood by causing your body to release more endorphins, it’ll also stabilise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” says UK-based stress expert Professor Stephen Bloom. So, 15 minutes before work, find a flight of stairs and run up and down three times for 30 seconds each. “This will boost oxygen flow to the limbic parts of your brain – the area that’s responsible for dealing with emotional stress,” Prof Bloom says.
Drink Hibiscus Tea
The choice you make for the crucial mid-morning tea break could seriously streamline your output. US nutritionists at Tufts University found hibiscus tea ($9.95 from www.teashopchina.com) combats the damaging free radicals produced by cortisol. “It’s long-term free radical build-up that leads to that uneasy feeling you get under pressure,” says the study’s author, Professor Diane McKay. “Hibiscus fights these free radicals without lowering your adrenaline or cortisol levels, so you can still feel energised.”
Add More Salmon And Tuna To Your Diet
Whether it’s sashimi or a tuna sandwich for lunch, integrate more salmon and tuna into your life. When Swiss researchers fortified men’s diets with omega-3 fatty acids (fats found in fish), levels of cortisol remained unchanged during stress tests. (The placebo group’s cortisol rose by one-third.) Or take a short cut: pop GNC Double Strength Fish Oil ($67.95 from www.gnc.com.sg). Each softgel capsule contains 600mg of omega-3 and is lemon-flavoured, which helps to minimise fish breath.
Have Your Colouring Book Ready
Some boyhood pastimes should never be discarded. Glasgow University psychologists in the UK found that colouring for two to three minutes during times of high stress increased the likelihood of hitting deadlines by over 25 per cent. Get even more benefit from your imagination by creating your own T-shirt designs at www.tshirtprinting.sg. You might even make some cash out of this.
Actively Challenge Yourself
You can train your stress systems like any other part of your body. “So, identify which stimuli cause you the most stress – then expose yourself to them,” says Neil Shah of the UK Stress Management Society. Actively hunting cortisol spikes will help you cope and thrive when they strike. Leave your comfort zone at least twice a month by trying something new, such as learning to cook a dish or organising social events.