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Why more of us than ever are feeling anxious... and what we can do about it

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Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, says: “Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the UK – it’s thought that around one in 20 people will experience anxiety each year.

Experts believe the speed and pressures of modern-day life are partly to blame for the rise in tension so many of us feel. Polls conducted on behalf of Mind found that women were three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the last week and were twice as likely as men to feel better for having cried. When it came to dealing with anxiety at work, 36% of women chose to hide in the toilets while only 15% of men did the same. Half of women surveyed said they would eat more if they felt anxious compared to two-fifths of men. Instead, 39% would drink alcohol compared to 29% of women.

Expert ways to banish stress

Here are the experts' top 5 best ways to combat stress and improve your overall health...

1. Sleep Well
“Sleep deprivation is often linked to stress,” says Dr Roger Henderson, so ensuring you’re getting the optimum amount is key to reducing your tension levels. On average, we need seven hours of sleep per day, though you may find you do better with less, or a little more.

2. Eat more… bananas
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can play a part in reducing stress. While all fruits and vegetables will have a positive effect on your general health, bananas have been found to contain “11 per cent RDA of magnesium and 15 percent RDA of vitamin B6, which are key to helping the body deal with stress,” says nutritionist Angela Dowden.

3. Exercise regularly
Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming or riding a bike, five times a week can reduce stress levels and risk of depression by 30 per cent, according to the NHS.

4. Connect with people
Surrounding yourself with family and friends is a sure-fire way to alleviate the symptoms of stress. According to Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, isolating yourself – either in general, or when you first start to feel stressed – means “you won’t have support to turn to when you need help… the activities we do with friends help us relax and have fun which is an excellent stress reliever.”

5. Think positively
If you’re a constant worrier, thinking more positively can be easier said than done. Traditional herbal remedies, such as St. John’s Wort, “have been found to lift mood in those suffering with mild to moderate depression”, says nutritionist, Rob Hobson.

Roger qualified as a doctor in 1985. He is the medical columnist for the Sunday Times and write regularly for newspapers and magazines. He has also written three books. More from this expert.

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No statement or article should be understood as providing treatment advice. If you have a health problem consult your GP and check compatibility of new supplements with your GP or Pharmacist if you are taking any prescription medication.

Nutrition Expert sources the latest information and advice from a range of qualified doctors, nutritionists and coaches. We always endeavour to have the most up to date information possible and publish new content weekly. However with the constant research in this field sometimes some of our older articles can become out of date. If you see anything that you believe needs to be updated please let us know via our Contact Us page