Stress! It can rob you of your energy, quality of life, happiness, and good health. Don’t let the news of the day get you down, or send your stress levels through the roof. Try these things to reduce the stress in your life.
Science Daily reports that a Washington State University study indicates interacting with dogs or cats for as few as 10 minutes can generate a reduction of stressed-out students’ cortisol levels – a major indicator of stress. One of the surprising discoveries from the study is that cortisol levels even dropped among the students who interacted with the animals who did not initially present with high levels of cortisol. In other words, you don’t need to have high stress levels for pet therapy to be effective at reducing it.
Believe it or not, those chores you think stress you out might actually be good for you. At least, if you do them. Washing dishes, according to a Florida State University Study, can help to calm the mind and decrease stress. The bottom line is that it forces you to focus your attention in a meditative manner that is actually good for you. There’s the added benefit of getting them clean the first time, too.
Music in the 60 beats per minute range can actually alter your brainwaves to synchronize with the beat, creating a more relaxed state of consciousness. Some people can even induce sleep by listening to calming music for 45 minutes. In fact, researchers at Stanford University believe listening to music may have the same impact on brain functioning as certain medications. Because music is easily accessible, it can be an effective tool for almost anyone to promote calm and reduce stress.
Put your thoughts and feelings on paper. It gets you out of your head for a minute to write it down, allowing the anxiety and stress to drain away. Another thing you can do is to write about these negative feelings, emotions, and experiences in an objective perspective, forcing you to view it through a different, less personal lens. One college study indicated that students who engage in expressive writing activities reported fewer instances of depression symptoms.
Most people are well aware that stress can bring on some profound physical symptoms. Not everyone experiences it, but most people have witnessed it. Harvard Medical School explains that deep, controlled breathing helps to mitigate many of the physical symptoms associated with stress.
A variety of studies indicate the that exercise has a positive impact on depression. One such study, from University of Maryland indicates that exercise may also help to protect individuals from future emotional stress, creating yet another reason to hit the gym or take your exercise routine into your own hands when circumstances call for it.
One controlled study revealed that chewing gum can help alleviate negative mood, reduces cortisol levels as well as perceived anxiety, and may relieve stress. While the precise reason gum is beneficial in stressful situations remains unknown, it may have something to do with improved cerebral blood flow from the actual mechanics of chewing gum.
Getting the right amount of sleep is extremely important for managing mood, and keeping anxiety at bay. These are trying times, and every little bit of sleep can help you manage tense situations, adversity, and stress far better than attempting to do so with insufficient sleep. In fact, one UC Berkeley study found that failing to get enough sleep can actually ramp up the area of the brain that contributes to anticipatory anxiety.
Maybe it’s time to dig out the old slapstick comedy DVDs, or engage in laughter yoga. The Mayo Clinic lists the activation and relief of stress responses and soothing of tension as key short-term benefits of laughter. The long-term effects are even better as laughter also helps to improve mood and boost personal satisfaction. That’s on top of the improvements it offers your immune system and it’s ability to help your body produce its own pain relievers.
Writing down the things in life you’re grateful for can really put life in perspective. Especially when it feels like the world is falling down around you. Anxiety robs you of so much of your joy in life. This is your opportunity to reclaim it. On paper. And, it works, according to the American Psychology Association who found that gratitude helps alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety.
Stress happens. Sometimes it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. We hope these tips can help you reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression as they arise in the days and weeks ahead.