Stress relief Stress relief

Simple steps to cope when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How we manage stress has a crucial role in our physical and psychological wellbeing. Simple choices may yield powerful benefits.

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Move your body

Find an activity you enjoy and move regularly. Regular physical activity is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. One of the best ways most of us can promote psychological wellbeing is to get moving. Exercise reduces your body’s stress hormones, including cortisol, and can also trigger the release of endorphins, chemicals that may improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.


Make space for quiet time

Take regular breaks from computer, phone and TV screens. Getting away from the news and social media may help reduce stress levels. Another approach to getting stress relief is mindfulness. Try box or square breathing (see “Square breathing”).

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Get sleep

Insomnia is a common disorder related to stress. The National Sleep Foundation says that 10 to 30 per cent of us have challenges with sleep. Proper sleep hygiene includes maintaining a regular sleep schedule, keeping the bedroom lights dim and reducing exposure to outside sound. Good sleep practices also include a comfortable temperature, with 18.3°C considered ideal. Avoid electronics in the hour before sleeping, as some emit a blue light that can interfere with sleep. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake, and try to avoid large meals before bed.



Many people across the world are still feeling the impacts of isolation after COVID-19 lockdowns. However, strong ties with family or friends may help you navigate through stressful times and lower any anxiety or stress you are experiencing. There are many ways to cultivate greater connection with others, which can be as simple as taking up hobbies that align with your interests, such as joining local sporting groups, book clubs or volunteering with a charity.


Square breathing

Focusing on breathing can reduce stress and may help improve sleep:

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1. Breathe & hold

Breathe in as you count to four slowly. Feel the air fill your lungs. Hold your breath for four seconds.

2. Breathe out

Breathe out slowly through your mouth for four seconds. Hold for four seconds.

3. Repeat

Repeat these steps until you feel centred.

If you or someone you care about is in need of mental health support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Originally published in The Costco Connection, Jul/Aug 2022. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.