5 ways to de-stress your life

Expert psychotherapist, Mr Alan Dovey, advises Medstars on how best to reduce our stress response and manage our emotions in stressful situations. Take it away Alan…

“As a psychotherapist who has worked in mental health for 30 years I cannot emphasise enough the importance of early intervention. Speak to family and friends if you are struggling with anxiety (stress response) and depression (usually driven by loss).”

The stress response system is driven by perceived “threat” i.e worry. By sharing worries with people close to you it is possible to get a more balanced perspective. Often internal thoughts grow more distressing the more we think about them. When we externalise thoughts (talking) the thoughts lose their “power” and “meaning” and lower our anxiety. So the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” actually has some scientific evidence behind it!

Additionally, neuroscientist, John Arden, author of The Brain Bible (2014) uses the acronym SEEDS and my clients find this very helpful:



This is a basic human need and Matthew Walker, Professor of Sleep at Harvard University and author of Why We Sleep (2017), cannot emphasise enough the benefit of sleep for our mental well-being. You can read Medstars’ review of Why We Sleep, here.

Reduce stress
Focus on good sleep hygiene and regular sleep habits.


Regular activity helps to balance our autonomic nervous system and lower the fight/flight response. This does not have to be intensive exercise but can be 30-40 minutes of brisk walking 3-4 times weekly.


The brain needs stimulus for growth! Lifelong learning enables the brain to grow and focus rather than focusing on things often outside of our control. Learning does not have to be a formal course but can include visiting new places and reading interesting books.

Reading can help reduce stress.


This is a growing area of research and we are now learning that the brain responds better to a healthy diet. A healthy diet improves our energy levels which are lowered in times of stress.

S= Social Contact

Research into emotional resilience points to social and family contact as making up 50% of our ability to bounce back from adverse/stressful life events.”

Man and woman hugging
Research emphasises the importance of social contact for our mental and physical well-being.

You can book a consultation in Birmingham with Mr Alan Dovey, who has specific expertise in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and occupational psychotherapy, here.

Consultant Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

First Visit £150

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