In today’s fast-paced life, stress is something we all have to deal with. Whether it’s a jam-packed family schedule, short deadlines at work or a relationship crisis, you have probably already felt the symptoms of stress at some point. Several health problems can be attributed to stress. Skin flare ups, raised heartbeats, sweating and feelings of sickness are common symptoms in stressed individuals.

There are long-term health implications as well. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are serious health problems that have all been linked to stress. However, armed with the right knowledge, and a plan for action, you can fight stress. Read on to find out how!

Choose sweet potatoes

Carb rich foods are a classic ‘go-to’ when it comes to stressful situations. It’s all too easy to make a big bowl of cheesy chips, hoping it will make you feel better, when all it does is make you feel tired and unhealthy.

Sweet potatoes are a much better option. Sweet potatoes are a low GI carbohydrate, which means you won’t be sapped of energy once you’ve eaten them. They taste great cut into wedges, roasted, and sprinkled with salt. Eat potatoes without the guilt!

Pack an avocado

Instead of your usual packet of crisps or cereal bar, pack an avocado in your lunchbox. There are eight different types of B vitamins in an avocado and it’s these vitamins that your body loses first when it’s stressed. B vitamins are important for energy. They help convert the food we eat into fuel for our bodies.

Avocados are also loaded with monounsaturated fats and potassium (even more than bananas!). These are vital for lowering your blood pressure and protecting your heart.

Munch on blueberries

If you’re craving something sweet, don’t reach for a chocolate bar! Blueberries are a tasty and tangy treat that can help calm a stressed out body. Amongst the other nutrients that class this fruit as a superfood, they are also packed full of fibre and vitamin C. This offers a natural way to protect your heart and energise your body. Blueberries also contain polyphenols which fight wrinkle-causing free radicals.

It has been argued that if you can only make one change to your diet, it should be to eat more blueberries, because they have so much good stuff in them!

Go for a walk

Getting outside is a great way to deal with stress. A half hour walk can clear away the mental cobwebs and help you get a clearer focus on a stressful situation.
In co-operation with mental health charity, ‘Mind’, Living Streets conducted a survey that showed 80% of people had an improved mental state after returning from a walk. Meet up with a friend, or grab your iPod and get outside. You’ll be burning calories and de-stressing!

Get a decent night’s sleep

Sometimes, being able to fall asleep at all is one of the hardest things when dealing with stress. Give yourself the best chance possible of a really good night by following a few techniques that are proven to help you sleep well.

Make sure your room is properly ventilated, quiet and dark. If this means using an eye mask to block out sunbeams, or ear plugs to tackle snoring partners, then so be it!

Get your body into a routine by going to bed at the same time every night. You could even schedule some time in for a bath, or light reading, to help you wind down as well. Giving your body a chance to rest and recover at the end of your day will help you cope with stressful days.

Spend time with a good friend (human or furry!)

Sometimes we forget that the best things in life really are simple. You can definitely make time for a five minute phone call with your best friend. This will cheer you up and give you some much needed respite from your stressful situation.

Spending time with pets is also said to aid stress relief. Taking your dog for a walk, or spending time chilling out with your cat on your lap lowers blood pressure and calms a stressed mind.

There is so much information available to help you handle stress. Make sure you give yourself the best chance of dealing with it effectively by eating the right foods, getting rest and spending time with loved ones.

Vicky Holmstock is the Managing Director at Results with Lucy. She helps The Only Way is Essex star Lucy Mecklenburgh stay in shape and contributes to the amazing diet and workout plans on offer from Lucy’s online fitness video subscription service. Like many of us, Vicky sometimes finds it hard to take time out for herself during her hectic schedule, but her extensive career as a Yoga teacher has taught her the importance of finding time to de-stress.