With February comes a time to re-prioritise health; a return to routines and for many of us, a time when we embark on a new gym or food challenge with a promise to banish Christmas excess, and come out the other side filled with energy, vitality and hopefully a couple of kilograms lighter!

In my work both as a wellness coach and as co-owner of The Kitchen Whizz, I am a huge advocate of getting back in the kitchen and enjoying real food as well as incorporating movement into your life daily – whether it be through structured exercise or by making the most of incidental opportunities such as hopping off the train three stops early and walking the rest of the way to your desk.

Whilst both these things are important in helping us to optimise our health and wellbeing, it is how we respond and deal with stress which has the greatest impact on us.

Stress appears in our life everyday – from the house, our partners and family, our commute, work. Heck we even have watches that tell us how stressed we are. We’ve always had an amount of stress in our lives – after all without it our fight or flight mode would not kick in. However today, more than ever we perceive ourselves to be in a state of constant stress.

This constant feeling of being stressed can present itself in the form of a number of health issues – bloating; digestive issues; mental and physical fatigue; weight gain; grumpiness; not to mention interrupt your sleep.

It is how we respond to our stresses which can go a long way in optimising our health; far more so that what we eat and how we move. In fact, often when we are stressed, we find it hard to make nourishing choices when it comes to food and hard to prioritise incidental movement. It is far easier to numb our stress with, among other things, alcohol, coffee, food, gambling and time on the couch.

Does being in a regular state of stress sound familiar to you? Be your own experiment and spend the next week noting down every time you feel stressed, what was behind it and note any correlation to your mood, behaviour and choices. Then we can look to implement practices which ground you back to a state of calm.