November 2nd marks Stress Awareness Day – and with more people affected by severe stress than ever before and an increasing number of serious illnesses linked to prolonged stress, it continues to be a key focus for integrative doctors (specialist medics who take a holistic view on health like East West Way founder, Dr Taz).

We all know that stress isn’t beneficial for our health – but finding effective, long-lasting relief from stress (especially when it is chronic) can be a real challenge. Everybody’s stress looks and feels different, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution which works perfectly for each person. There are now lots of different therapies, treatments and practices which can support our bodies and mind to cope better with stress, too – but the sheer amount can be overwhelming. There’s good news though – research into stress and the many different tools and techniques available to us is revealing interesting biological effects which offer promising insights into which methods of stress management really work.

Here we share some of our favorite scientifically proven strategies to help tackle stress which are simple, practical and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

Deep breathing

You may be familiar with breathwork – which is the modern version of an ancient practice called Pranayama. Pranayama is a key element of both Ayurvedic and yogic philosophies, which emphasize the importance of balanced energy in the body.

From a scientific perspective, deep, slow breathing actively lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, interrupting the pattern of the stress response and regulating our emotional response and autonomic nervous system, which is activated when we are feeling stressed. Breathing techniques for stress are easy and simple to try at home – such as box breathing (breathing in for four counts, holding for four, exhaling for four counts and holding again for four, before starting again). You can also work with a professional breath coach to learn the techniques in more depth.

Regular exercise

Exercise is of course beneficial for our physical health – but it also offers proven benefits for our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Stress in particular can be supported with regular exercise, which triggers the release of stress-busting mood lifters such as endorphins and dopamine. At the same time, moving your body and increasing your heart rate have been shown to actively reduce the number of stress hormones in the bloodstream.

One of the keys to harnessing the full benefits of exercise is to make it enjoyable. When physical activity is a chore, it becomes another stress in itself. Be sure to have fun and schedule at least one activity per week which you genuinely love – whether it’s dancing, yoga, aerobics or cycling. Exercising outside offers additional benefits in the form of fresh air, sunlight and endorphin-boosting surroundings.

Sound sleep

It sounds so simple, and yet for many people getting a good night’s sleep often feels impossible. Sleep really is one of the most important aspects of our overall health, with poor quality or disrupted sleep affecting our appetite, metabolism, hormonal balance and emotional state. When we don’t sleep well, we don’t have sufficient energy reserves or mental focus, which in itself can cause stress. The body’s ability to regulate mood is also impaired, which can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Improving your sleep hygiene is one of the most effective ways to tackle insomnia or poor sleep. Tips include:

*Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day

*Getting as much daylight/sunlight as possible during daytime hours

*Putting away or turning off screens and devices at least one hour before you plan to sleep (preferably longer)

*Practicing deep breathing or meditation before you go to sleep

*Warm baths and caffeine-free herbal teas in the evening

*Using tools such as calming essential oils, white noise and weighted blankets to encourage a deeper sleep

*Try our Sleep Savior blend, featuring Magnesium and melatonin for natural sleep support

If your sleep is affected by an illness or condition such as chronic pain or the menopause, or you are experiencing symptoms or medication side-effects which cause you to wake up during the night, be sure to speak to your doctor for professional support.

Adaptogens & supplements

Adaptogens are believed to support the body and help it adapt to stress, whilst minimizing the negative impact of stress on the body. Adaptogens are considered safe with few to no side effects and have actually been studied for almost 80 years. Some common adaptogens which have been proven in studies to support the body’s response to stress include Ashwagandha, Ginseng and Tulsi (Holy Basil).

Serenease for calm and ease, lifestyleThere is also a host of minerals and herbs which can also help with stress management on a biological level such as B-vitamins, melatonin and magnesium. Our Serenease blend is designed to help with mood regulation, energy levels and stress management, featuring 6 beneficial forms of magnesium to calm and soothe.

Always consult your doctor or medical professional before taking and new supplements and independently check sources of supplements to ensure purity and quality.

A note on supportive strategies for stress

Even when a stress management method has been scientifically proven, there is still an element of trial and error – and few people experience significant changes overnight. Establishing the root cause of stress is also essential in order to understand what type of approach may work best for you. Often a multi-faceted, consistent approach is needed over an extended period of time to help you to better cope with stress, make necessary lifestyle changes and install healthier new habits which will minimize the impact of stress on your overall health.

If at any point you feel that you need professional support or find yourself in crisis, be sure to reach out to a registered and qualified physician who can offer expert advice and guidance tailored to your situation.