We all know that stress is one of the leading contributing factors to both physical and mental illness. But how can we avoid something that seems such a normal part of our everyday lives? 

Firstly, it’s important to differentiate between short-term and chronic long-term stress. Short-term stress causes your adrenal glands to release a potent mixture of adrenaline and cortisol, otherwise known as the flight-or-fight response - which can be beneficial to get you through a particularly intense period, whether it’s a big project at work, a breakup or a busy festive period with friends and family. After a period of stress, the body’s parasympathetic nervous system kicks in to bring the body back down to equilibrium - and this is the key part where many of us have trouble. If you can’t get out of flight-or-fight mode your body becomes overworked and your immune system weakens, making you more susceptible to both viruses and chronic illnesses. 

Understanding how to identify stress, and then knowing what you need to do to manage it is imperative to feeling your best in the new year and beyond. 

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We’ve shared our four top tips on how to reset your body and mind this January for a relaxed, happy 2023.

Tune your brain to a new frequency with a sound bath

Looking for a way to turn off a busy mind without having to get onto the yoga mat? Try a sound bath - new research shows that the frequencies in the sound may alter the electrical frequencies in your brain, encouraging a meditative state which allows the body to relieve stress and tension. Some research even shows a positive effect on chronic pain, anxiety and depression. The best part? No tricky yoga poses needed, all you need to do is relax and let the sound wash over you. 

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Prioritise sleep

In recent years, sleep has become a primary focus for researchers in longevity. In fact, on a study on centenarians (those who live to 100) researchers found that these people generally experience optimal sleep across their lifespan. So, if you’re not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night it’s worth making some tweaks to try to improve your sleep hygiene. Building a solid routine around bedtime and rise time, putting your device out of reach and investing in a good-quality mattress might lead to much more than just a better morning, it could add years to your life. 

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Give your gut a break

Research shows that our natural gut biome is incredibly important for mental health as well as physical health. In fact, recent research shows a strong gut-brain connection when it comes to both anxiety and depression. So, if you feel a bit low after indulging in too many Christmas treats and tipples, you may benefit a gut cleanse to give your biome a boost in the right direction. The focus of the cleanse is to allow the gut to rest, re-introduce probiotics and encourage the optimal environment. Try to include more fermented foods into your diet such as sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha whilst also increasing your intake of healthy wholegrains, fruit and vegetables.

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Get your morning dose of natural light

This time of year we’re all craving some sun, but did you know that 30-45 minutes of direct sunlight exposure first thing in the morning (within an hour or waking) kick starts many important functions of the body including digestion, temperature and circadian rhythm? If you find yourself falling asleep late and waking late, you may even find this trick helps you fall asleep earlier at night. If it’s cloudy out don’t fret, even sunlight filtered through clouds or rain still has an effect - just not through your window or sunglasses. The easiest way to ensure you get your sunlight and make it a habit is by working it into your daily routine - for example, making sure the start-time of your daily walk falls within the hour of waking is recommended.