Being stressed out seems to be a regular part of modern life. People have different ways of dealing with it and often have different reactions to it. We all have stress levels and a good portion of us would rather they be lower than what they currently are. In response to this, we cultivated this guide to help manage stress and lead to an ultimately better life. It is important to know, however,t that stress cannot be entirely eliminated. In a way, it is a drive for us to complete our goals and often gives us the kick in the pants we need to get things done.
Okay, bear with us. It’s exactly what your parents would spout when you were younger but it works. A 2015 study from the journal Clinical Psychological Science had 77 adults keep a diary for two weeks about their daily stressors, and how often they helped others (everything from holding a door open for strangers to helping their kids with homework). They also rated their mental health for each day. In the end, they found that “helpers” felt less stressed (even though they still had plenty of stressors), and a lot happier than those who didn’t engage in what the researchers termed “prosocial behaviors.”
By this we mean just sit down and freak out for a bit. Set aside half an hour for worrying about whatever’s nagging at the back of your mind. In one 2011 study, researchers found that people dealing with intense stress who set aside 30 minutes a day to just sit and worry were better at coping with their problems. It works by confining worrying to 30 minutes. The technical term for this technique – “stimulus control of worry” – was developed by psychologists back in the ’80s, with the idea that containing cyclical thoughts that stress you out to that 30 minutes can keep them from making you miserable all day long.
It might not agree with your man-code, but what the boys don’t know won’t hurt them. Yoga has incredible powers to reduce stress by “down-regulating” the HPA axis, a.k.a. the feedback loop between your brain and endocrine system that creates the stress response. Essentially, practicing yoga might help train your brain to react to stressors in a more chill way from the start. Studies have confirmed this since the 1970s but this study is more up-to-date.
Music has the power to trigger biochemical stress reducers which, given the name, reduce stress in a natural chemical reaction. A playlist of nature sounds, such as birdsong, wind through trees or a remote stream running over rocks often reduces stress, anxiety and blood pressure through the instinctual reactions to the sounds. Alternatively, you can reduce stress by bouncing to some more upbeat tunes, or singing as loud as you can (the shower is the best stadium in my opinion).
5. Have a good laugh
Good laughs right from the belly are great for reducing stress as well as boosting endorphins – chemicals which work to generally lighten your mood. This study found that “…the favourable effects of laughter on social relationships and physical health may have a role in influencing the ability of depressed patients to face the disease.” Basically, laughing is good for you. Sit down with a good sitcom, hunt down a silly cat video on Youtube or hang out with that one friend that constantly finds what makes you chuckle.
Yup, most likely best entry yet. Sex has been linked to lowering blood pressure, which also helps lowers stress, among other things. It is also a form of exercise, burning around 5 calories a minute as it raises heart-rate and utilises a fair few muscles. Orgasms also release endorphins that make you feel good as well as lowering anxiety and stress levels. Orgasm also releases the hormone prolactin, which aides in the feeling of relaxation and sleepiness. Just go have sex. For science reasons.
Just about any walk or time spent outside moving can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins but for maximum stress-reduction, a recent study says you should hit up a place with lots of green, like a park or a bush walk. This is due to something called “involuntary reflection” which allows for the brain to enter a sort of state of meditation. Walking in nature also help boost cognitive functioning and fight mental fatigue.