THE age old conundrum of how to beat stress is one many of us would like to solve.

Giving up work and retiring to a desert island might seem nice but there are seven steps we could all take, according to health expert Dr Charlotte Bech.

The celebrated doctor, surgeon and expert on natural medicine is travelling from her home in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month to give three free talks designed to help people tackle stress.

There are three chances to hear Dr Bech speak when she visits Firstsite Gallery and Essex University to give her talk Freedom from Stress.

Having written seven books on health, two of which were bestsellers in Denmark, covering topics from having a healthy diet to fertility and women's health, she also has her own weekly column in a national ladies' magazine in her home country and often appears on Danish radio and TV.

She says stress is something which is only increasing universally and while we all know what is causing it, the removal of those elements has proved difficult.

"It is definitely escalating.

"And because we have not been able to remove those causes of stress we need to be able to deal with it in other ways. It is something that is happening universally."

She says stress is being diagnosed as early as in school children and increased pressures on work and home life are not helping within the adult populations.

"There is increased pressures on your time coming from everywhere.

"Everyone is working hard but there are also situations where staff are being laid off and then fewer people are having to do all the work.

"And everyone is suffering stress, it doesn't matter if you are a CEO or not."

And Dr Bech says one of the severe causes of stress is noise pollution.

"This is universal and one of the biggest stress factors actually.

"Noise can create a lot of stress and we are even seeing it in school children.

"Studies have shown that pupils at a school or office near to an airport for example will have increased stress levels, it will lead to them being distracted."

But help is at hand and during her talks Dr Bech will outline the seven natural procedures we can all put into action to help try and counterbalance stress in our lives.

"Basically they all have the ability to re-balance the parasympathetic which helps balance our hormones and helps us experience more happiness.

"When people are in stress that system closes down or switches off and we need to know how to unlock this."

The first of the seven steps outlined by Dr Bech is simply to get outside and exercise.

"Getting outside in green nature and experiencing the outside reduces stress, studies have shown this and one of the suggestions is actually to do gardening.

"This has been proven to reduce stress and actually in Denmark, at least, it is used to treat soldiers who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

"The second way of beating stress is to use light therapy, which follows on the from the first one really in that you should get up early in the morning and get outside.

"Again, exercising it a good idea at this time because in the evening your parasympathetic nervous system switches off," adds Dr Bech.

Relaxing with harmonious music, either classical or slow chanting is another way of reducing stress and anxiety and is even used in treating patients with coronary heart disease.

And in the fourth step to reducing stress Dr Bech says herbal therapy is the key.

"We have a number which specifically target stress like valerian and hops and you can drink them in a powdered form added to camomile tea or warm milk.

"And you should try and minimise caffeine, which can keep you awake.

"Studies have shown valerian can help with sleep.

"The fifth step is having a massage with oils which can really greatly reduce stress.

"Aromatherapy, which involves the inhalation of essential oils is the sixth way of tackling stress.

"Lavender and Jasmine both have a really calming effect and mandarin is another good one."

The seventh, and final step, seems simple but it is probably the most crucial - take more rest.

Dr Bech says ; "You need to be taking more breaks during the week and and make sure you have at least one day off a week.

"And go to bed earlier every day,

"I also always advise people to learn meditation.

"A deep, deep transcendental meditation can be so effective and once you have learned the basic lessons, which only takes about five days, you can do it pretty much anywhere and it is so effective."

She herself uses all the steps she will talk about in further detail at the upcoming talks.

"I am using all of these and what has the most effect is the meditation because it activates your parasympathetic nervous symptom and helps you unwind."

Dr Charlotte Bech will give talks at the Firstsite Art Gallery on Sunday May 6 at 2.30pm and again on Wednesday May 9 at 7.30pm.

The third talk tales place at 2pm in Room 1N1.4.1 at Essex University on Thursday May 10. Entrance is free.

To reserve a place go to: or call Barry Spivack on 01394 420455.