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Top tips for reducing stress levels

Don’t worry – you don’t need a lot of time, or highly specialised equipment to combat signs of stress. 

Try these five strategies when you want to instantly reduce how stressed out you feel.

1. Create some art

Pull out your pencils or paints and get creative. Engaging in any sort of artistic pursuit can causes your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, to plummet. Don’t think you’re very artistic? Doesn’t matter! Researchers say cortisol levels fall as a result of having a go at creating art, regardless of artistic talent or how ‘successful’ the end result is. 

2. Try the 4-7-8 sleep trick

Too stressed to sleep? A breathing technique, dubbed the ‘4-7-8’ might help. Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth and exhale through your mouth making a ‘whoosh’ sound. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, then hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale again to the count of eight. Repeat up to four times.

3. Chew some chewing gum

It’s scientifically proven to lower cortisol levels, probably due to the chain reaction that chewing creates, by increasing blood flow to the brain. Chewing for just 10 minutes is enough to help you feel less stressed.

4. Get in the garden or outdoors

Having a few plants around the place can help put a stop to soaring stress levels, but for a real stress-relieving hit, get up close and personal. Research shows that the simple act of touching foliage with your fingers triggers a change in brain chemicals that promotes a sense of ‘calm’.

5. Smile more

It might seem like the last thing you feel like doing when you’re stressed, but when you make a conscious effort to smile in the face of a stressful situation, it reduces your body’s physical stress response. In other words, your heart rate won’t rise as high and your cortisol levels will be lower. The end result? A calmer, less stressed-out you.

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Weekdays 10am-12:30pm ITV