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Friday, June 28, 2019

40 Proven Stress Busters

For many of us, the end of the school year equals the beginning of summer vacation.  Even if you don't have kids or grandkids, the longer hours of daylight mean that you have more leisurely evenings to spend with friends, go to a barbecue or picnic, attend an outdoor concert, or enjoy a long after-dinner walk.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash


Yet on a day-to-day basis, we still have work and errands and other responsibilities, and the stresses of those things can still get us down.

Relaxation and stress relief are what we hope to gain from leisure, and the following ideas can also be helpful.  And since minimalism is about making space and time for what is necessary and valuable, and removing what isn't, it too is a proven antidote to a stressful life.





Eat or drink:

1.  Drink a glass of cold water when you're feeling stress.  Your problem could be dehydration rather than stress.
2.  Migraine headache?  Eat some spinach.  It's full of magnesium, which is used in the ER to treat migraine attacks.
3.  Eating 10-12 raw almonds is the equivalent of taking two aspirins for a headache.
4.  Chew on a mint leaf.  Mint has been proven to reduce stress levels.
5.  The amino acids in one cup of yogurt have a calming effect.
6.  Avocados boost serotonin (your body's natural "happy drug").  Eating them regularly will improve your mood.
7.  Have a square of dark chocolate.  It contains phenylethylamine and tryptophan, which release serotonin.
8.  Eating a banana helps your mind relax, which will leave you feeling happier and stress-free.
9.  Ginger tea will help a headache.
10.  Sip on some hot chocolate.  Studies show it increases blood flow to key areas of the brain, boosting mood and alertness for up to two hours.


Move your body:

11.  The way you start your day can affect your reactions to stress that day.  Before you do anything else in the morning, take 5 minutes to do stretching exercises.  Stretching helps relax muscles, which can reduce feelings of stress.
12.  Even 5 minutes of vigorous exercise will increase your endorphin levels and lower feelings of stress.
13.  Squeeze a stress ball.


Take a break:

14.  Take 5 minutes to sit and relax in silence.  Find a comfortable position and just let your mind wander.
15.  If you're stressed at work, step away from your desk and take a short walk around the office or up and down a flight of stairs.  Stop by the drinking fountain on the way back to your desk.
16.  Run your wrist under cold water for 5 minutes.  It will cool your blood.
17.  Turn off technology for a few hours.  No phones, computers, or TV.  A break from bad news, gossip, obligations, or FOMO can really lift your mood.


Breathe:

18.  Hang some cuttings of eucalyptus around your shower head.  The steam will release a refreshing, invigorating fragrance and beneficial oils every time you shower.
19.  Use the "square breathing" technique anywhere at any time:  inhale deeply for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, wait for 4 seconds.  Repeat.
20.  Put 2 or 3 drops of lavender essential oil in your cupped palms.  Inhale deeply to draw the scent all the way to your amygdala gland (the emotional center of your brain) to feel calm.  Then rub the oil on your temples, neck, or wrists for an immediate calming effect on the body.
21. Sniff a lemon.  Studies show the fresh citrus fragrance will immediately improve your mood.
22.  Yawning cools your brain, which helps release stress.  Can't yawn?  Try just thinking of the word "yawn."


Be in nature: 

23.  Have you had your vitamin D levels checked?  Low vitamin D will make you feel lackluster and out-of-sorts.  Spend 5-10 minutes sitting in the sunshine with your face and hands exposed.
24.  If it's cloudy or raining, boost vitamin D with a daily 2,000 IU supplement.
25.  Being in nature increases calmness and vitality.  Go for a walk, sit in a garden, climb a tree.  Lay in the grass and watch the clouds.


Enjoy positive interactions:

26.  Give a sincere compliment.  Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine levels, which will increase your sense of happiness and well-being.
27.  Smile, even when you're in a bad mood.  Using these muscles is enough to trigger the happy chemicals in your brain.
28.  Exchange neck and shoulder massages with a friend.
29.  Spend some time with your pet.
30.  Want to feel better instantly?  Hug, snuggle, or kiss someone you love.  Not only will you feel loved and loving, but it's been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure.


Think positive:

31.  Give a dollar or all your spare change to a homeless person.  Remember that you have enough for your needs.  This can reduce anxiety.
32.  Start a gratitude journal.  At bedtime, write down people, events, opportunities, and comforts you appreciate.  Ending the day on a positive note will not only help you sleep better, but will eventually change your entire outlook.
33.  Practice affirmations.


Be creative:

34.  Doodle or draw something. 
35.  Singing releases a large number of endorphins and can make you feel better almost instantly.  Play your favorite song and sing along!
36.  Find a distraction.  Do something that will take your mind off stressful thoughts for 15 minutes, such as playing an instrument, coloring, origami, or knitting.


Sleep:

37.  Lack of sleep increases stress.  Make sure you're getting at least 7 solid hours of sleep every night.
38.  Take a nap.  Even 20 minutes can improve metabolism and the quality of sleep you'll get at night.


Just let it out!

39.  Make a to-do list.  Simply getting the tasks you need to finish out of your head and onto a piece of paper will make you feel less stressed.
40.  Let out stress the old-fashioned way by yelling.  Go to a closet, or your car, or anywhere away from people, and just let it out.






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