Feeling stressed is part of modern life, but we've found some weird and wonderful ways to help manage it. Stress affects both the mind and the body, so effective stress-busters will address both! Try incorporating one of these ideas and see how your daily stress levels change…

Chew gum. Something as simple as chewing a stick of gum can help relieve mild to moderate stress. It can also make you more alert and help you multi-task. A study found anxiety levels dropped by 17% in mildly stressed people when they chewed gum. (Their alertness levels were also found to be 19 per cent higher than non-chewers, and they were 67 per cent more effective when asked to multi-task, too!)

Get outside. At least once a day, rain or shine, try to get outside for a few minutes. Getting out of the florescent lights and into some fresh air can be a great way to hit the restart button. A quick lap around the building, or if you're lucky, around some kind of trees or grass, will help you focus and feel better.

Hum a tune. Thinking of your favourite song and spending a minute or two humming a few verses can halt the stress cycle for a while. Humming helps relax tense muscles, blocks out the thoughts racing around our heads and makes sure we breathe more deeply and calmly. The result? A moment of peace.

Eat chocolate! When you want some stress release, don't forget what Swiss scientists call the "chocolate cure". A clinical trial in Lausanne found eating 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduced the stress hormone cortisol in people who reported feeling "highly stressed". The antioxidants and other tasty ingredients in dark chocolate also improved metabolism and healthy gut bacteria. (Unfortunately, eating more chocolate won't further reduce stress – 40 grams a day seems to be the right amount!)

Blow up a balloon. The act of blowing up a balloon does two important things for stress relief: it makes you breathe deeper, because you have to use your diaphragm, and it makes you breathe more slowly. Both these things activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces our heart rate and relaxes our muscles.

Have a laugh! You can stop stress in its tracks with a laugh. Just thinking about laughing can start a chain reaction in your body that reduces the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and DOPAC. By seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh, we can help ourselves to stay well.

Speak to a colleague or friend. It’s always good to be able to offload to someone we can trust, and they may also be able to give you a different perspective on a situation.

Turn off notifications. Multitasking used to be seen as an accomplishment, but research is showing that multitasking is not an effective way to produce quality work. When focusing on a project or task, turn off as many notifications as you can get away with - or at least make it slightly harder to check them. It can be as simple as putting your phone on silent or on the other side of the room, so you don’t see every notification pop up.

Work smarter, not harder. Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference. Leave the least important tasks to last and accept that your in-tray will always be full. Don't expect it to be empty at the end of the day.

Try mindfulness. This PDF explains some basic mindfulness exercises you can try. This progressive muscle relaxation guide also explains one effective relaxation technique in more detail. Or, why not try breathing for relaxation. Lots of people have found mindfulness and relaxation techniques really effective in helping them to stay well and cope when their stress levels are high.

If you're trying to learn how to manage stress better, you could also try completing this stress management worksheet to help you find ways of coping. You can find more resources to help you understand and cope with a variety of mental health conditions on our Helpful Resources page.

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