The Healthspan Editorial Team with expert comment from Dr Roger Henderson December 15, 2016

Mental Health is a topic the majority of us are starting to feel a lot more comfortable discussing. This can only be a good thing, but we do still have a long way to go, especially since the speed and pressures of modern day life are readily increasing and resulting problems such as anxiety are on the up.  

Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, says: ‘Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the UK – it’s thought that around one in 20 people will experience anxiety each year.’

Polls conducted on behalf of Mind revealed some interesting statistics on this topic.

  • Women were three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the last week and were twice as likely as men to feel better for having cried;
  • When it came to dealing with anxiety at work, 36% of women chose to hide in the toilets while only 15% of men did the same;
  • Half of women surveyed said they would eat more if they felt anxious compared to two-fifths of men;
  • 39% of men would drink alcohol compared to 29% of women.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of tips available to help combat stress and with the help of Dr Roger Henderson, we’ve put together five particularly good ones to help you on your way to better health.

1. Sleep Well

‘Sleep deprivation is often linked to stress,’ says Dr Roger Henderson, so ensuring you’re getting the optimum amount is key to reducing your tension levels. On average, we need seven hours of sleep per day, though you may find you do better with less, or a little more.

2. Eat more… bananas

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can play a part in reducing stress. While all fruits and vegetables will have a positive effect on your general health, bananas have been found to contain ‘11 per cent RDA of magnesium and 15 percent RDA of vitamin B6, which are key to helping the body deal with stress,’ says nutritionist Angela Dowden.

3. Exercise regularly

Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming or riding a bike, five times a week can reduce stress levels and risk of depression by 30 per cent, according to the NHS.

4. Connect with people

Surrounding yourself with family and friends is a sure-fire way to improve the symptoms of stress. According to Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, isolating yourself – either in general, or when you first start to feel stressed – means ‘you won’t have support to turn to when you need help… the activities we do with friends help us relax and have fun which is an excellent stress reliever.’

5. Think positively

If you’re a constant worrier, thinking more positively can be easier said than done. Traditional herbal remedies, such as St. John’s Wort, “have been found to lift mood in those suffering with mild to moderate depression”, says nutritionist, Rob Hobson.

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