From The Straits Times    |

Photo: dolgachov

Whether in school or at work, we constantly have to deal with stress.

Although stress is unavoidable, there are steps we can take to help us handle pressure better.

1. Get a good workout

Exercising releases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, in your brain. There are many types of exercises that you can try, but the key is to find the perfect one that suits your fitness level and body.

Sports and exercise nutrition coach Aqilah Norazman said any type of activity you enjoy that quickens your heart rate should produce that feel-good effect.

She said: “Whether you love yoga or weight lifting, your body needs to be challenged in order for you to feel good afterwards. You don’t have to run a marathon to relieve stress. Choose a manageable exercise that will give you a good workout so the endorphins in your body can make you feel better.”

2. Try calming exercises

If you prefer to take it slow, certified health and behaviour change coach Aimee Barnes suggests tai chi, yoga, meditation and qigong.

Ms Barnes said: “Spending 20 minutes in the morning doing any of these exercises, along with strength training a few times a week, is sufficient. We are all wired differently, so it is important to find a plan that works for your individual needs.”

3. Make better food choices

Ms Barnes said that many processed foods actually aggravate our stress levels.

She said: “Energy drinks and coffee can leave us feeling hyper, while foods high in sugar and salt can cause mood swings, anxiety, or make us feel unwell. Foods made up of simple carbohydrates but devoid of nutrients can cause our energy level to spike and crash.”

Eat beneficial foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, healthy oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Ms Aqilah said that having a good diet is imperative in maintaining a relaxed state of mind and healthy body.

She said: “You are what you eat. If you constantly eat foods that are high in nutrients, your body will have a better metabolic rate, making you feel less sluggish and more alert.” 

4. Do not skip your meals

Ms Barnes said: “Many hardworking and stressed-out Singaporeans skip meals. Apart from causing low blood sugar, a lack of nutrients, and an overall feeling of deprivation, this is a surefire way to worsen your stress and frustration.

Aim to have four to six small meals throughout the day. This simple change will go a long way in relaxing body and mind.”

5. Avoid multi-tasking

Ms Barnes said developing mindfulness can help you feel less overwhelmed.

She said: “Mindfulness is being aware of what you are feeling every moment. If you are eating, just focus on the food instead of doing other things simultaneously. Do one thing at a time. Take 10 minutes hourly during work or study to stretch or walk.” 


This article was first published in The Straits Times Classified. Download The Straits Times Classified app available free at the Apple App or Google Play stores.