Live Better

5 simple ways to relieve stress (without chocolate biscuits)

Feeling overwhelmed? Calm and recharge yourself with these positive stress-reducing techniques.

Think of a stressful event – a fight with your partner, an extra demanding day at work, children driving you crazy, a tight deadline. How do you make yourself feel better?

If you answered treating yourself to ice cream out of the tub, pouring a large glass of wine, or breaking out the lollies, chips or chocolate, chances are you’re one of the many people who reach for comfort foods when life gets stressful.

Comfort foods are so aptly named because they reconnect us with memories we value. We can envelop ourselves in the sense of familiarity, comfort and sometimes even safety. While food plays an important role in our social interaction, the distraction that mindless eating provides is short lived and on the whole, never really as satisfying as we think it will be.

If you’re reaching for food to try to comfort yourself through times of stress or distress, it’s time to consider some new emotional management strategies.

Here are a few you can try.

Sweat it out

Celebrity trainer Bill Phillips was right on when he said: “Food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug and exercise is the most potent, yet under-utilised antidepressant.” Research shows that exercise has great mental health benefits, helping to reduce tension, improve alertness and concentration, decrease levels of stress hormones, boost your mood and improve your sleep.

So when the stress-odometer starts rising, try heading out for a run or brisk walk to release some tension, or calm yourself with slower and more meditative exercise like tai chi, qui gong, or yoga. And to cope better with stress every day, factor exercise regularly into your week.

Hit the pause button

When we’re stressed we can get caught up in the ways things have played out in the past or catastrophise about what the future holds. The best place to be is here, in the present, and the best way to refocus to here and now is to practise mindfulness.

Take a moment to focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose, fill up your abdomen, hold it for a few seconds and breathe out through your mouth. As you repeat this pattern start relaxing your tensed muscles, your clenched jaw and hunched shoulders – become aware of where you’re holding your tension and let go.

You can also get creative with mindfulness – colouring in for example is another great way to de-stress.

Break it down

Feeling overwhelmed? Forget the finish line – break down the task at hand into bite size pieces and focus only on completing each step, one at a time.

Flip your self talk

When you’ve had a demanding day, it is easy to believe negative self talk about your abilities. Interrupt the internal barrage and focus on your strengths instead. Make a list of all the things you are good at, and all the things you are grateful for. It helps put all your stresses back into perspective.

Take it outside

Ecotherapy (also called nature therapy) encourages us to spend more time outdoors to relieve stress and ease anxiety. Finding just five minutes of green time each day can benefit your mood, and well as giving you the opportunity to practice mindfulness and top up your Vitamin D.

Life is going to challenge you. Next time you need some help coping, step away from the fridge and try these positive and more effective ways to manage stress.

Latest Articles


Thrush: signs to look out for

75% of women will experience thrush at least once in their.

Read more

How to stay smoke-free in summer

Dr Sarah White shares some tips for summer parties.

Read more

Do you know these beach safety essentials?

Bondi Rescue's Trent Maxwell shares his top tips.

Read more

Succeeding at work as an introvert

You don’t need to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’.

Read more

Answers to the questions you can’t ask your boss

An HR expert takes on all your office faux-pas.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4