Laura Williams

The current climate is enough to make anyone ditch the gym for the pub but your body won’t thank you for it – there are better and healthier ways to avoid feeling the squeeze.

Spin it out: Exercise isn’t called meditation in movement for nothing. Physical activity increases the production of endorphins, the brain’s feelgood hormones. Not just the remit of marathon junkies, the runner's high can be achieved through as little as 20 minutes of exercise. And if you opt for higher intensity, you’ll get results faster: a study undertaken at University of Missouri-Columbia found high-intensity exercise to be superior in reducing stress and anxiety.

C it through: A high dietary intake of vitamin C may help reduce the effects of chronic stress by inhibiting the release of stress hormones, research has found. And it’s also proven to enhance immune system function, helping you to avoid any end-of-season lurgies. Citrus fruits and red and green peppers contain the highest amount of Vitamin C but be aware that cooking destroys it, so try to have them in their most natural form.

Keep it simple: If the thought of getting changed into your workout clothes feels like climbing a mountain, think about choosing activities that require very little preparation: running or brisk walking, or even gardening, cleaning the house or trying out a yoga DVD in your living room are all slightly lower maintenance, stress busting exercise opportunities, minus the hassle.

Relaaaax: Not only will relaxing help to lower stress levels, a study’s found it will help to keep weight in check too – researchers found that reducing stress stopped cravings for fatty foods and sweets. Make sure your working day has a clearly defined beginning and an end, and think about proven exercise relaxation methods like yoga and tai chi.

Lay off the stimulants: Great for keeping you alert but not so great for a jangling nervous system, caffeine and nicotine should be used with caution in times of stress. They’ll take you up but owing to the inevitable law of gravity, unfortunately they’ll also bring you plummeting back down.

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