Skip to main content

Five essential tips for managing stress

Stress is part of life and it affects everyone differently. We know when unpredictable events occur, it's easy to become worried, anxious and more stressed than usual. While some stress can be motivating and manageable, too much can harm our health.

In this image we see two adult women - a mother and her daughter - sitting outside at a garden table. The daughter looks visibly stressed and upset and the mother is rubbing her back in comfort.

What does long-term stress mean?

Long-term stress means that you constantly have a higher level of adrenaline in your body which increases your blood sugar, your blood pressure and makes your muscles tense. This increases your risk of heart attack or stroke.

There is still a lot that we need to learn about how stress affects the body. We know that there are signs of stress we can pick up on, including headaches, stomach aches, poor sleep, being tired and irritable and having more coffee or sugary snacks than usual to keep you going.

Health conditions that can develop due to too much and ongoing stress include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression. It can also make you breathe faster, due to increased adrenaline, and make your heart beat faster.

Here are 5 tips from the Heart Foundation to help you manage stress

1. Make time for yourself

It may be tempting to focus on everyone else. However, taking care of yourself is essential for managing stress. Make time for rest when you need it and for activities that you enjoy, such as reading a book, going for a walk or listening to music.

2. Move your body regularly

Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to manage stress and improve overall health. Any type of movement releases endorphins, the body's natural stress reliever, and helps you clear your mind and feel refreshed.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep is critical for our physical and mental wellbeing, and unpredictable events can affect your sleep. You may need more sleep and rest during stressful times. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and establish a consistent sleep routine that doesn’t involve screentime to help you unwind and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

4. Eat a heart-healthy diet

A healthy diet can help to improve your mood and mental health. Sometimes we can crave comfort foods when we’re stressed, tired or sad. Try to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein foods, and limit highly processed foods and alcohol.

5. Connect with loved ones

Spending time with friends, family and loved ones can help reduce stress and improve your mental health. Maintaining relationships and connections with those who matter to you is essential for managing stress.

Managing stress is important for heart health and our health in general. A big part of managing stress is accepting that there are certain things we can’t control. If you feel that you are suffering from anxiety or stress, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can call our Heart Helpline on 0800 863 375 or (09) 571 9191 between 9.00am - 3.00pm, Monday to Friday and speak with a heart nurse. You can also email us at

This image shows an adult male of Asian heritage, walking in a park with his two male children. He is holding the hand of a small boy, and has an even smaller boy riding on his shoulders. The boy on the shoulders has his arms raised above his head in joy.