Stress is part of everyday life for a large portion of the world’s population. For some people, it only takes a quickening of the heartbeat or a slight feeling of unease to let them know they are getting anxious or overwhelmed.
A scolding from your boss or bad news from someone in your family can cause the stress hormone cortisol to skyrocket, speeding up your heart rate, constricting blood vessels and raising blood pressure.
Such reactions end up contributing to chronic conditions such as hypertension and headaches, not to mention mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. What’s more, stress can create other conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome , and insomnia.
Although we cannot prevent a stressful situation, it is possible to develop methods to ease or even abolish its effects and find balance. With that in mind, here are 20 scientifically proven ways to relieve stress.
1. Take a 10 minute walk
One of the best-known ways to relieve stress is physical activity, as moving the body reduces stress hormones, such as cortisol, and helps release endorphins, substances that are natural pain relievers and act to improve mood.
A simple walk will help clear your mind and boost endorphins, however, consider walking in a park or other green space so you can truly put your body into a meditative state.
2. Take a deep breath
Anyone who practices yoga knows that breath, known as pranayama or life force, plays an important role in oxygenating the body. This is even recognized by doctors.
Breathing exercises promote relaxation of the body. In some situations, just taking a deep breath can help reduce tension and relieve stress.
While shallow breathing, a hallmark of stress, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, deep breathing does the opposite, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system response, which helps people to calm down.
In addition, it has been proven in clinical research that breathing exercises help to lower blood pressure.
3. Imagine a scene that brings you calm
A simple imagination is an easy way to get back on track. Even the US National Institutes of Health recognizes the power of “guided imagery” to trigger a relaxation response.
Just position yourself comfortably (at your desk, in your room or wherever you want) and then take a deep breath and start imagining a scene that reminds you of tranquility: your future vacation, peaceful landscapes, etc. Possibly these scenes will provide you with calm and a feeling of well-being.
4. Have a snack
The link between the gut and the brain, called the “gut-brain axis,” is enormous, and interesting data support the idea that the gut is an important mediator of the stress response.
Eating your favorite snack, calmly and preferably in a quiet place is capable of transmitting a feeling of pleasure, peace and tranquility to the brain.
5. Buy a plant
Home plants are not only beautiful air fresheners, but they can really help you calm down. Researchers have found that just having a person close to plants can induce relaxation.
A study by the University of Washington in the United States of America found that a group of stressed people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure, while another group who had no contact with plants dropped just two points.
6. Stay away from screens
Uninterrupted computer use has been linked to stress, insomnia and depression primarily in women, according to a study by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
In the same study, late-night computer use was also associated with stress in both men and women. So make sure you take frequent breaks during computer use time, and try to turn it off at least an hour before going to sleep.
7. Turn off your cell phone
Cell phones can stress you out, and there’s no doubt about it, and talking on the phone can even raise your blood pressure. So turn off your phone and relax.
Studies have shown that cell phone use disrupts our cortisol production, creating more stress among users.
8. Or in another case, turn on the monitor
Yes, screens/monitors can be stressful, but when used correctly, there is no reason not to go online for stress relief.
A study conducted at a clinic in Cleveland, USA, with 300 healthy adults, found that some internet programs to relieve stress, such as guided meditation, help lower stress levels and boost emotional well-being.
9. kiss on the mouth
Kissing relieves stress by helping the brain to release endorphins. A study of 2,000 couples at Northwestern University, United States of America, found that those who only kissed when they had sex reported eight times more chronic feelings of stress or depression.
10. Try this acupuncture trick in your hands
Applying pressure to the space between your thumb and index finger can help create an instant feeling of calm . This activates a nerve that relaxes the heart area in order to dissipate nervousness.
11. listen to a song
While classical music has a particularly soothing effect, it lowers heart rate, blood pressure and even levels of stress hormones, any music you like will fill your brain with neurochemicals like dopamine for example, causing feel good.