Having strategies to support stress management are more important than ever, a Ballarat-based naturopath says, with many people experiencing higher levels of anxiety throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Naturopath and women's health coach Annabel Mason said breathing techniques could help reduce stress and support relaxation, however it was important to seek professional support for mental health issues.
"Certain breathing techniques can be used to quickly affect your nervous system, switching of the stress response, supporting a reduction in stress hormone production and switching on the part of the nervous system involved in relaxation," she said.
Ms Mason said she had seen an increase in stress-related issues among her clients throughout the pandemic, with the uncertainty of the situation creating a sense of fear, worry and anxiety.
A Vox Pop Labs research project revealed the number of people reporting feeling stressed has increased by more than 17 per cent compared to before the pandemic.
Ms Mason said she wanted to share basic tips which support overall health this Women's Health Week.
Breathing and mindfulness techniques also offer an option for when you simply cannot get out for a walk or get any time to yourself while the children are learning from home.Annabel Mason, Blossom Wellbeing
These tips included getting fresh air and exercise each day, keeping up hydration and nutrition through a healthy diet, and making time for activities you enjoy.
Ms Mason said quality sleep was important to well-being and creating a slow down routine about an hour before bed time could help relax the body and mind.
She said learning some simple breathing an mindfulness techniques could equip people with a tool that could be used alongside other stress management and mental health support.
"Breathing and mindfulness techniques also offer an option for when you simply cannot get out for a walk or get any time to yourself while the children are learning from home," she said.
Ms Mason suggested people check in on a daily basis whether they were holding their breath.
"Many of us hold our breath without realising it when we are slightly stressed or whenever we sit down to open our email or hear our phones beep with a message or we can hear the kids bickering," she said.
"When we hold our breath it actually triggers a stress response in our brain, so noticing when you tend to hold your breath and consciously breathing at that time can help."
Ms Mason also recommended noticing whether you are breathing through your nose or mouth.
"We are designed to breath mostly through our nose. Our oxygen absorption is better through our nose so when we breathe through our mouth we can end up feeling more tired and more easily stressed," she said.
Ms Mason said a simple tip to help reduce feelings of stress, tension or anxiety was to extend the exhale.
For example, breath in through the nose to a count of four and exhale through the nose or mouth to a count of eight and consciously relax with the exhale.
"Extending your exhale switches off the stress response and switches on the part of the nervous system responsible for helping you to relax, digest and replenish (parasympathetic nervous system)," she said.
It is important to also seek professional help if you are experiencing mental health issues. Contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 for immediate support or speak to your health practitioner.
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