If you’re struggling with prolonged, chronic stress you’ll need to put in place some long-term stress management systems that work for you, like regularly talking to a professional. However, in the short-term there are some effective hacks that can significantly help to relieve stress in the moment.

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Smile

We smile when we’re happy but did you know it can work in reverse too? According to research, smiling can actually turn that frown upside down. The act of a simple smile tricks your brain into feeling happy, spurring a powerful chemical reaction that can make you feel better - even forcing a fake smile works! Smiling can have many positive effects, to name a few: improving your mood, lowered stress levels and boosted immune system. Try it now :D

Time out

The most effective stress-buster is ‘me-time’. For at least 15 minutes every day, and more if possible, stop everything, and be selfish. Stop treating relaxation as something you do only after everything else has been dealt with and schedule it into your day. Read a book, listen to music, have a bath, go for a walk, whatever you find comforting and soothing - just be sure it doesn’t involve a device.

Break a sweat

Exercise can help pause the build-up of stress. If you take a brisk walk when you’re feeling stressed, this will facilitate deep breathing, which helps to calm the mind and relieve muscle tension. If you can, try to get outside to exercise for double benefits. Research has found you can effectively reduce stress through nature. Other activities such as yoga and tai chi combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus, which also has a calming effect.

Breathe!

Take mini-mindful breathing breaks throughout the to encourage you to focus on your breathing and nothing else. Not sure where to start? There’s lots of great mindfulness apps for anxiety that walk you through breathing exercises.

Breathing Exercises For StressBreathing exercise via Healthline.

Get friendly

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to be higher in lonely people, and the damaging effects of not feeling connected can be compared to smoking. So, schedule in social time – and prioritise time with friends and family each week.

Eat intuitively

Apparently, what you eat and your overall gut health will impact your mood. There are even mood-boosting foods, which can alter your disposition. For instance, complex carbohydrates like vegetables, beans and whole grains (not beige, fried foods!) release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. While lean meat and poultry release dopamine, which boosts energy and enhances mental clarity. So be mindful and eat intuitively! Fuel your body with foods that will make you feel outwardly happy.

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