Science-backed ways to reduce stress

Science-backed ways to reduce stress

Do you find it hard to manage your stress levels? Keeping them in check is key for maintaining weight-loss. When you are stressed your cortisol levels rise and we produce more of the hunger level ghrelin which can cause us to overeat or binge unnecessarily.

If you feel yourself getting stressed on a regular basis, try these science-backed tips to help you manage and cope.

Gargle water

Yes, it might sound a bit odd, but gargling water has been shown to reduce stress levels as it helps stimulate the vagus nerve.

“The vagus nerve is the long, wandering nerve that facilitates the relaxation response, or parasympathetic nervous system,” says Heidi Hanna, executive director of the American Institute of Stress. “When we are stuck in chronic stress, we can get hijacked by our stress response, or sympathetic nervous system, and similar to muscles that go unused for a long period of time, the vagus nerve can lose its strength or tone.”

Take a walk

When the pressure gets too much, one way to keep yourself sane is to go for a little wander in the park. One study showed that a 15-minute walk away from the office is enough to lower stress levels. Walking also raises the feel-good hormones endorphins, leaving your mood elevated and less angsty.

Avoid booze

We often reach for a glass of wine after a long stressful day at the office, but in doing so we’re actually making our stress levels worse. Consuming alcohol can affect our sleep and spike our cortisol levels, making is more stressed. It can also affect our anxiety levels in the long run. Instead reach for a cup of herbal tea such as soothing camomile or peppermint tea which will ease feelings of stress and help us sleep.


You know the saying “just breathe”, well there’s a lot to be said in that, particularly when it comes to releasing stress. One study found that it radically reduces stress levels. “When you engage in deep belly breathing, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system and your body starts to relax,” says Hanna.

Fill up on omega-3s

Omega 3-s can be found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel and are responsible for heart, brain and eye health. One study also found that they play a key role in reducing anxiety in people. Make sure you have at least 3 servings of oily fish a week or if you are vegan or vegetarian take algae supplements to help ensure you are getting your recommended dose.


If you’re not getting enough sleep, you might be falling into a vicious cycle of stress and insomnia. If we don’t get enough sleep, we raise our cortisol levels and become stressed and when we are stressed, we tend to find it hard to sleep. If you’re stuck in this cycle, adopt a sleep routine where you stop eating four hours before bedtime, put your devices away two hours before sleeping and have a hot bath with magnesium salts and some lavender oil to unwind and get you settled for a deep and peaceful sleep.

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