Small Changes to Help Manage Stress

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Jamie Barnes

October 30, 2013


Stress is defined as anything that requires us to adapt & make changes to our habits, routines, lifestyle & thought processes. Also adapting to environmental pollution's, drugs, poor diet or ill health causes stress on our delicate body systems.

Some stress or pressure is required for motivation and drive, each individual has their own homeostatic level of stress for optimal performance. When stress is intense or unresolved it negatively impacts our emotions and our physical functioning.

Thankfully, there are techniques and small changes you can make to help manage stress:

Dietary suggestions

Enjoy as much as possible:

  • Whole oats (porridge / muesli)
  • Green leafy vegetables (broccoli / parsley / spinach)
  • Nuts (almonds / walnuts)
  • Herbal tea (chamomile, liquorice, rooibos -can add milk). These are low in caffeine & supportive to the nervous system.

Avoid during times of stress:

  • Caffeine (Coffee, tea, cola, chocolate)
  • Sugar (Lollies, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, foods with sugar in top 5 ingredients)
  • Alcohol (Wine, beer, spirits) -maximum 1-2 standard drinks per day, include 2-3 alcohol free days per week. In many cases total avoidance is recommended.
  • Cigarettes (As well as the link with heart disease & cancer, tobacco is a strong stimulant on the nervous system. There is no situation where smoking is harmless.

Lifestyle suggestions

Relaxation techniques:

Each day (start with a couple of minutes & increase as you feel comfortable) sit or lie in a supported position in a quiet room, preferably wearing loose fitting clothing.

  • Take 3 deep breaths, then allow your breath to return to normal
  • Allow your mind to quieten down, if tense thoughts enter just let them pass
  • Take your thought to each body part, allow each one to relax -start with your toes and finish with the top of your head
  • Go at your own pace, allow your exhaling breath to assist relaxation

5 tips for better balance

  1. Have clear, well-defined goals. Write down where you want to be & what you need to do to get there. Be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & within a time-frame.
  2. Develop effective coping strategies. Learn behaviours that improve your adaption to stress (relaxation, time management, meditation, communication skills) and quit addictive substances or behaviours.
  3. Develop & look after relationships. These are vital to our emotional well-being.
  4. Look after you health. Exercise regularly, eat well & enjoy food. Have enough sleep & take supportive supplements to prevent ill health.
  5. Live for today. Balance isn't about doing everything, it's about doing more of what is important. Learn from your experiences and make plans for your future.


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