5 Ways Science Says You Can Relieve Stress : Is life stressing you out? Stress can interestingly manifest itself in many different ways whether it’s overwhelming nerves, feelings of concern, headaches, back and neck pain, depression, anxiety, or simply emotions of sadness.
While stress is a completely normal part of life, too much stress can be detrimental to your health, and research shows that stress is on the rise (in part due to political and social events taking place around the world). A 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association found that reports of physical health symptoms related to stress rose from 71% to a whopping 80% of Americans between August 2016 and January 2017.
If you’re looking for effective, science-backed ways to relieve stress, don’t miss this essential guide:
Get a Massage
Not only can a massage help release muscle tension built up by stress, but it can stimulate endorphin production and boost blood circulation, all great natural stress relievers. Manipulation of the body’s soft tissues via light to deep pressure in the form of stroking, kneading, tapping and so forth have been shown to address both musculoskeletal issues that cause stress (like fibromyalgia pain) as well as stress symptoms themselves like headaches and insomnia.
You don’t have to splurge to get a good massage either. You can find deep discounts on massages at group coupon sites like Groupon or local massage schools, or you can even give yourself a massage at home with a massage ball that helps you recover faster from stiffness and soreness brought on by stress.
Try Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for centuries to help induce feelings of relaxation, calm, and focus. Most recently, however, scientists have found the certain oils like lavender, sandalwood, peppermint, vetiver, and bergamot contain special properties which seem to provide the greatest stress relief.
You don’t have to burn incense to get aromatherapy anymore. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways including in a hot bath, in a diffuser, or even in a solution you spritz your yoga mat with before practice. Most essential oils require a “carrier” oil or liquid in which they are diluted so be careful not to apply any essential oil directly to your skin or you may cause irritation.
Walk in Nature
Need to blow off some steam? While the age-old practice of “taking a walk” is still very much an effective step in cooling down, science says that the location of where you walk can also play an important role in lowering your stress levels.
Researchers at Stanford University did an interesting experiment where they asked participants to walk through either a lush, natural environment or a bustling urban environment. The participants who walked through nature reported higher levels of happiness as well as more attentiveness and less inclination to brood on negative thoughts.
Want to feel good? Try triggering the “feel good” hormones your body already naturally produces (like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin). Routine physical activity has been shown to stimulate the production of these biochemicals, oftentimes being coined as “flow” or “runner’s high”.
The best way to stick with regular exercise is to schedule it into your day from the start, and not just plan on doing it whenever you have time. Choose fun activities as well that you enjoy and add a little spice to your workouts – think hiking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, tennis, cycling, swimming, yoga, you name it!
Take Up Coloring
Relaxing hobbies like coloring that essentially take you away from yourself can help to refocus your thoughts in a positive and creative way, providing natural and effective stress relief. Adult coloring has become a very popular hobby in the past few years and for good reason. In addition to relaxing the brain, it simulates meditation in a way, gearing the mind towards thoughtless focus and restoring feelings of well-being.
You can find adult coloring books in just about any store these days or online. For the most relaxing time, however, try coloring symmetrical shapes like mandalas or flowers. The brain is trained to recognize patterns and coloring in symmetrical shapes feeds that innate desire and boosts feelings of positivity.
If none of these fun hobbies do the trick when it comes to managing your stress, try doing something for someone else instead. Volunteering and giving back to others has also revealed many stress-relieving benefits like lowering blood pressure, boosting mood, and improving overall outlook on life.
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