Go For a Walk
A lack of physical activity and mounting stress are inextricably intertwined, so if you’re feeling stressed out, try taking a walk for a few minutes. Not only does exercise boost your endorphin levels, reducing stress and increasing feelings of well-being, the mere act of moving can provide some respite from those negative thought patterns that contribute to your stress.
Have a Glass of Tea
Taking a break with some tea may help you break out of that stress-induced rut. The meditative act of steeping and drinking tea can help you slow down and take the focus off what’s stressing you out. Even better, the results of a Japanese study suggest that, among a group of 2774 adults, those who regularly consumed tea had less stress than those who opted for other beverages.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Getting a handle on your stress could be as easy as taking a few deep breaths. Slow, deliberate breathing fills your lungs with oxygen, decreasing the anxious feelings that often accompany being out of breath, and can slow a racing heart in the process. Researchers at the University of the Basque Country have even found that deep breathing exercises helped reduce cortisol levels in both male and female study subjects, suggesting that those deep breathing exercises may help you slim down, too.
Stress may make it hard to find things to smile about, but putting on an ear-to-ear grin may actually make you happier, if you can muster one. Researchers at the University of Kansas have found that college students who smiled during stressful tasks had significantly reduced physiological responses to stressful stimuli than those who stayed stone-faced.
Repeat Some Affirmations
The phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” doesn’t just apply to self-esteem; it can also be a helpful idea when you’re dealing with unwanted stress. Cheesy as they may seem, research published in the 2014 Annual Review of Psychology reveals that self-affirmations can actually yield positive psychological results, increasing confidence and mitigating stress along the way. If you can’t see yourself standing in front of a mirror declaring yourself worthy of love and admiration, that’s no problem; writing down your mantras works just as well.
Put Your Phone Away
Checking social media may make you feel connected to your friends and family even when you’re far apart, but for many people, constantly checking our phones can actually increase stress. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, individuals who were exposed to stressful events via their friends’ social media feeds were likely to internalize said stress. The solution? Put your phone away whenever possible and connect with the people in your life the old-fashioned way.
Crank Some Music
While your Adele impression may not be winning you any fans, listening or singing along to your favorite songs can provide some serious stress relief. Research published in PLoS One reveals that study subjects exposed to exterior stressors lowered their heart rate and salivary cortisol levels faster after listening to music than after listening to other supposedly relaxing sounds, like running water.
Stretching may not be a huge calorie-burner, but when it comes to stress, this relaxing method of self-care can change your mood in seconds. Not only can stretching fight back against any physical pain that could be making you feel stressed, research suggests that stretching can prompt an increase in feel-good hormone dopamine while reducing cortisol levels.
Spend Some Time Alone
While spending time with friends and family can help some people manage stress, it’s just as important to build some solo time into your routine. Spending time by yourself can help distance you from stressors like work, relationships, and that never-ending to-do list while providing you time to engage in some self-care activities, like reading, exercising, or treating yourself to a spa day.
Want to lower your stress level in a hurry? Try unplugging for a bit. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have linked the blue light emitted by electronic devices to reductions in natural melatonin production, reducing both the quality and quantity of our sleep, and potentially ramping up our stress level in the process. Fortunately, committing to just a few device-free hours a week can make a huge difference in your stress level while minimizing your risk of so-called digital diseases, like gamer’s thumb and text neck.