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Now more than ever, it's important for us to keep track of our stress levels. Here are a few fun (and easy) ideas on how to keep calm amid these stressful times

Despite the universality of stress, one would be hard-pressed to find a single definition to explain such a turbulent feeling. The UK's Mental Health Foundation defines it as "our body's response to pressure" while others define it as a "type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain".

Whatever way you define it, however, one thing's for sure: we've all felt it, especially this year. And no, it's not just in your head either; stress comes with many physical symptoms that include aches and pains, dizziness, exhaustion. Hormones also play a huge role in this: too many stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine) can cause serious health risks as elevated levels of cortisol can unnecessarily increase blood sugar levels and impair the immune system

Don't get it wrong: stress can be a good thing but as it is with money and chocolate, too much is never good. Here's how you can easily lower your stress levels to make sure your stress remains at a healthy level. 

Read also: How To Use Acupressure On Your Body To Relieve Stress And Tension

1. Exercise

Exercise may not be the most glamorous activity out there, but there's no getting around how good it is for you. Exercise in whatever form releases endorphins (or happy hormones), increases overall health and is also a great mood booster. But don't feel bad if you're not looking to hit the gym too hard, because simple exercises—such as walking or jogging—are already a huge help to lower stress. Plus, we're sure being outside for a while will be a great way to lift your spirits too. 

2. Cuddle

While cuddling is a wonderful way to lower stress levels, it'd probably be smart (at this time) to do so with people you're already living with. Those fortunate enough to share a roof with loved ones may take advantage of each other's company and simultaneously lower stress; however, you don't limit yourself. Cuddling with a pet can also do wonders for your mental health. Spend an afternoon giving your pup some much-deserved quality time you both need!

3. Distract yourself

Depending on your situation, sometimes it's best to just not think about things, especially when you have no control over the circumstance. At this point, it's best to just distract yourself with a funny TV show, an energetic playlist, or the soothing sounds of your favourite nature activities (birds singing, waves lapping, crickets chirping). Once you focus on something that isn't as troublesome, you might realise that there's more to your experience than the stressor at the forefront of your mind. 

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4. Breathe

Breathing exercises are a great way to calm down. Personally, the most effective are the ones that come with a visual guide (such as an evolving shape). If you're not one to be too keen on meditation, perhaps simply breathing along to a pattern will be a wonderful alternative.  

5. Eat calming food

While we'd endorse binge eating or stress eating, but we do know that some food can be good for you. A small portion of dark chocolate (70 per cent or above), around 1-3 grams, can help bring your mood up. Pair it with a nice cup of tea, for a slow merienda (afternoon snack) that can help wind you down.  

Read also: Where To Buy: Alcohol-Infused Desserts That Are Perfect For Both Merienda And Happy Hour

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