Every day, an estimated 21 South Africans commit suicide and according to experts, stress could be a significant contributing factor.

A recent study conducted by international research company Bloomberg ranked South Africa as the second “most stressed out” nation in the world, following Nigeria.

Currently the pandemic has caused an emotional tsunami and South Africans are saddled with worries about education, healthcare, job security and the nitty gritty of day-to-day life. Thing is, all eight billion human beings on this planet are different, but there’s one thing we all have in common … STRESS.

Although short bursts of stress could offer tremendous opportunities to break through personal barriers and encourage growth, chronic stress is detrimental to mental and physical health. Remember, stress activates your body’s fight-or-flight response which in turn prompts your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, including adrenalin and cortisol.

When this fight-or-flight reaction stays “turned-on” the long term exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body’s processes, leading to anything from depression, anxiety, weight gain, heart disease and much more.

As stress becomes the chronic epidemic of our time, there is an overwhelming demand for strategies to manage the condition.

Here’s how to keep your cool:

  • Cut the to-do’s. Learn to say no when you are feeling over-burdened. Prioritise the most important tasks and delegate the rest.
  • Create a safe haven. Pick up some fresh flowers and burn some candles. Or make a notice board of quotes that inspire you. By making these small shifts, you remind yourself that you matter and are worth time and attention.
  • Be kind to yourself. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
  • Accept what you cannot change. Focus your energy on the things you have control over.
  • Laugh more. A good chuckle has some stellar short term effects. It stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles by enhancing your intake of oxygen, thereby reducing the level of stress hormones at the same time.
  • Eat healthier. Stress levels and diet are closely related. Certain nutrients, such as Vitamins B, C, and Zinc (essential for a healthy nervous and immune system), are used up rapidly when one is under stress. Incorporate more fruit and vegetables as well as fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Get outside. Schedule time in nature to unplug without a goal being attached. Just walk without the pressures of fitness goals. A 15 minute walk could make all the difference.
  • Stand tall. Did you know that good posture can make you feel more in control and less anxious? So, stand proud and your mood will follow.
  • Take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing will encourage mind and body to slow down and return to normal.
  • Talk to someone. This could be a friend, family member or a counsellor.
  • Thank your lucky stars. Studies show that grateful people enjoy better mental health, lower stress, and better quality of life.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief. However, it’s important to keep looking for the tools that will help you to manage life’s inevitable ups and downs in a healthy way.

Source: 1life.co.za, verywellmind.com, healthline.com, heartfoundation.co.za, ditchthelabel.org, womanshealthmag.com, healingpoint.co.za, bhekisisa.org, news24.com, mensjournal.com, berries.com, transcendental-meditation.co.za

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.