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Woman stressed

The modern stress epidemic and how to avoid it

April is stress awareness month, an annual 30-day period held since 1992 that serves the purpose of increasing public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

The modern stress epidemic

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress is "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them", and symptoms often include heart palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex. Despite this, we often disregard this psychological problem as being a part of everyday life; a bi-product of relationships, work and money problems that is simply unavoidable.

Cast yourself back to the last time you felt overly stressed. Now consider this; is the latter a regular occurrence that is causing your day-to-day life to be more challenging than it should be? In 2015 and 2016, stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Work related stress, anxiety and depression is a problem in Great Britain, with 488,000 cases recorded across 2015 and 2016. That's a prevalence rate of 1,510 per 100,000 workers.

5 top tips for helping prevent stress

In this day and age many of us are becoming stressed to the extent that it affects how we think, feel and behave. This is not something that has to be endured and is certainly not an unavoidable part of everyday life. Simple changes to your lifestyle can make for a big impact on your mental wellbeing.

Get some sleep

According to mental health charity Mind, many people who experience stress and mental health problems also experience sleep problems, and vice versa: "Stress can cause your thoughts to race around your mind, making it difficult to sleep. You're also more likely to experience disturbed sleep, nightmares, sleep walking and insomnia."

5HTP could help to reduce insomnia by increasing your levels of serotonin; a chemical that is converted by the body into melatonin which is responsible for regulating sleep patterns.

Bathe with magnesium flakes

You may well be aware of the mineral magnesium's contribution to the maintenance of normal bones and muscle function, as well as of its importance in terms of energy yielding metabolism, tiredness and fatigue and a healthily functioning nervous system. But did you know that Magnesium is needed for more than 325 biochemical reactions in the body and that it has a relationship with psychological function, or, in other words, the brain?

There are a variety of delivery methods available for making the most of magnesium. Supplements are a simple and effective way of obtaining your daily intake, particularly when they contain citrate and malate which will aid absorption into the body, and magnesium bath flakes are a great alternative treatment for those seeking complete and utter relaxation.

Stay active

There is no doubting the benefits of exercise for the human mind. As well as being great for overall fitness, exercise encourages the production and release of endorphins, AKA 'the feel good' hormones that help calm anxiety and lift your mood. Moreover, exercise helps to regulate the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which in high quantities has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

Reach for herbal supplements

A variety of herbal supplements are useful in combatting stress. 'Growing scientific evidence for St John's Wort shows that it can prevent stress-induced changes in the brain that activate the pituitary and adrenal glands', says Dr Patricia Macnair. 'In other words, it may stop the brain from switching stress on in the body.'

Take time to breathe

There is a lot to be said for taking a deep breath and taking the time to simply breathe is something you should consider working into your daily routine.

The NHS even promotes breathing as a technique for stress, anxiety and panic.1 Make yourself as comfortable as you can and let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable. Try breathing in through your nose for a count of five and then letting it flow out gently for the same number of seconds.

Do this for three to five minutes daily to take control of heightened feelings of stress.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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