20 Scientific Ways to Beat Stress
In theory, technology is supposed to make our lives easier! In reality, not so much. The constant barrage of e-mails, invites, and notifications can really add to the stress of the day. Luckily, the science of stress relief has come a long way too.
Today on Healthversed, we present 20 stress-busting strategies to help you chill out. Let’s go!
Deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and lower stress. It has to do with your bodies Relaxation Response, a physical state of deep rest. If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and take five long, deep breaths!
Exposure Therapy is a behavioral therapy strategy used by psychologists to treat anxiety and PTSD. But you can use it to de-stress too! First, identify the object or objects that trigger stress. Then, slowly expose yourself to them. Over time, the fear/stress will subside and all but disappear!
Hit the Gym
Feeling the weight of the world resting on your shoulders? Then pick up some weights! Not only does exercise increase focus, energy levels, and helps you live longer, it also smashes stress. A quick trip to the gym provides your brain with a feel-good shot of endorphins! Regular exercise can improve your overall mood, too. Don’t just sit there. Get up, move around, and watch the stress melt away!
Volunteering at a local animal shelter, helping a friend move, or even holding the elevator door for a stranger has been shown to alleviate symptoms of stress. Even better, the more people you help, the happier you become! So buy a co-worker a coffee, send a nice “thinking-of-you” text, and force open the flood gates of positivity!
Sure, meditation is uncomfortable and kind of boring, but practicing mindfulness has been shown to crush stress and improve overall mental well-being time and time again. Just 10 minutes of meditation per day can dramatically reduce your stress levels and increase your overall well-being. Meditation has even been linked to an increase in grey matter in the brain. Now, you just need to master sitting still for more than a minute at a time.
Listen to Music
This one is a personal favorite of ours. Anytime we feel overwhelmed, we pop in our ear buds and escape with the sounds of a favorite band or artist. Music has been shown to decrease your stress hormones, reduce emotional stress, and generally calm the nerves. Even better, the genre of music is entirely up to you! You can even listen to some soothing nature sounds if you feel so inclined.
Back in 2009, a study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduced stress by as much as 68%! Reading also lowers your heart rate, eases tension, and improves cognitive function. And, as with music, the genre is irrelevant. Self-help, comedy, romance, fantasy … even this article is helping coax your body back to base line. You’re very, very welcome.
Stress doesn’t like it when you smile. At least, that’s what science has taught us! According to a University of Kansas study, smiling while tackling complicated tasks was shown to reduce stress levels across the board. Why? Nobody really knows. The important thing is that it works! So, smile more. It really does do a lot of good.
Keeping a daily journal or simply writing about your emotions has also been shown to ease stress. Again, the why is relatively unknown. Some believe that writing about traumatic events helps an individual unpack their feelings. Others believe that it helps people overcome emotional inhibition. Either way, writing helps ease the burden of a stressful day. That is, unless you’re battling a deadline.
Take a Time Out
Living in the modern world can be hectic. So, if you’re feeling stressed, there’s no shame in taking a 15 minute time-out to recharge the batteries and re-focus your attention. If you sit at a desk, watch a funny YouTube video or take a quick stroll around the block. Take a break, recover, and get back at it revitalized and refreshed.
Manage Negative Thoughts
Not all stressful stimuli come from the outside. A lot of it can be internal! Negative thoughts are pervasive, dangerous, and a lot more normal than you think. But, you’re in luck! You control what you dwell on! Notice your mind constantly cycling back to the negative? Challenge those negative thoughts, practice gratitude, and focus on your strengths.
Listening to music is cathartic. But what about singing it? Yes, belting out a tune can help alleviate stress and release those incredible endorphins too. It’s all about discovering something that brings you joy, and then falling back on it when times get tough. So, if humming your favorite tune gets you feeling good, hum away to your hearts content!
Get a Pet
Dogs, cats, heck … even a small fish tank have been shown to increase overall happiness, dramatically reduce blood pressure and alleviate stress! It’s about companionship, a furry distraction and a sense of duty. That said, getting a pet can be a huge responsibility. So don’t take on the extra work unless you’re prepared to stick with it.
Clutter at home and at the work place can affect every aspect of your life. It’s distracting, disorganized, and encourages a lax attitude that can creep in to your day-to-day. It’s also an unnecessary and stressful burden. Put away that towel, wipe down your desk, and de-clutter your workspace. Your blood pressure will thank you!
Social media, work e-mails, and a constant barrage of outrageous news stories can stretch you thin. So, commit yourself to turning off your phone and disconnecting for a few moments every day. Unplugging from the digital world can help you recover from the stress of the day and allow you to adequately prepare for the next challenge.
Another one of our personal favorites. If you’re feeling a little run down and stressed out, talk to someone! Human beings are communal creatures that rely on social support for happiness. Socializing directs all of that stressful energy outward, lowers blood pressure, and increases stress-fighting hormones. Pick up the phone, walk to a neighboring desk, or spark up a conversation with a stranger.
Yoga is a combination of exercise, meditation, and controlled breathing. That’s THREE stress-busting strategies in one! Now, we can totally understand if yoga isn’t your thing, but we absolutely love it. The feeling you get after a long, relaxing yoga class is as close to magic as humanly possible. Looking for a place to start? The Yoga Journal has a great list of stress-busting yoga poses.
Soft, pleasant scents can set the tone for a stress-free day or help you unwind after a long one. Aromatherapy has been around for centuries! So light a candle, burn some incense or fire up some essential oils.
Another popular strategy used by many to treat anxiety, stress, and more. Guided visualization is a lot like meditation, except more interactive. You close your eyes, listen to an instructor’s audio clip, and imagine yourself on a beach, floating on the clouds or simply doing something that you love. It’s a great alternative for those that get restless after a few minutes of traditional meditation.
Get a Massage
Last but not least, treat yourself to a professional massage. Not only are they good for circulation and mobility, but a professional massage is designed to calm the mind too! Sink in to the table, breathe in the scented candles and kiss your stress goodbye!