Young woman stressed and rubbing her forehead

The Best Ways to Relieve Stress at Any Time

In the short term, stress isn’t such a big deal, and can actually help when it comes to meeting goals and challenges, urging you to act in a more efficient way.

However, chronic stress can really cause some problems…

This is when you experience stress over a longer period of time, whether this may be weeks or months. This can really damage your health in several different ways, including:

  • Lowering the function of your immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and irritability
  • Flare-ups in autoimmune diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Increased cardiovascular risks 

With 70% of Americans claiming to feel stressed on a daily basis, learning how to tackle and deal with stress could really make a huge difference to the general health of many people. 

Want to know how to go about reducing your stress levels?

Here are a few of the best ways…

Do Some Exercise

It has been proven time and time again that those who exercise on a regular basis are likely to experience less stress and anxiety than people who do not.

Why is this?

For a few different reasons, such as:

  • Lowered stress hormones – exercise lowers the levels of cortisol in the body, while triggering the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that help you to feel happy
  • Improves sleepthis then helps to reduce stress
  • Improves self-esteem this can really help with anxiety

Don’t have time for a long workout?

There are many ways in which you can quickly squeeze some exercise into just ten minutes of your day, although you should then do this twice a day for best results.

Try doing some squats or standing push-ups while cooking meals in the kitchen, or spend five to ten minutes a day climbing stairs.

If you drive quite often, try parking further away than where you would usually park, so that you have to walk for five to ten minutes.

Even while you are sat down watching TV, you can still be exercising…

Jog on the spot during commercial breaks, or use small weights to do some leg exercises while you are sitting.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are actually one of the most effective ways to instantly lower your stress levels.

When you breathe in a deep and relaxed way, even if you are forcing yourself to do this, it sends a signal to your brain to calm down. Your brain then sends this same signal to all of the different parts of your body, and, before you know it, you will feel so much less stressed and more relaxed. 

Want to give this a try right now?

All you need to do is:

  • Place your tongue behind your upper front teeth
  • Breathe in through your nose quietly, for a count of four
  • Hold this breath in for a count of seven
  • Exhale completely, forcing your mouth to make a whoosh sound while doing so, for a count of eight

You should then repeat these steps four more times

Spend Quality Time With an Animal

Did you know that science has proven that spending quality time with an animal can decrease stress in a few different ways?

Some may find this hard to believe, but it is true.

Just physically being around an animal, even if you are just watching a fish in an aquarium, decreases your blood pressure. Petting them will magnify this effect.

Beautiful young woman playing with her dog in her garden

Animals can also help the way your body responds to stressful situations in the first place, reducing the amount of stress that you actually experience. 

Take a Natural Supplement

There are some supplements that can really help to keep stress levels low.

These include:

  • St. John’s Wort lifts the mood and helps you to look at situations in a more positive light
  • Rhodiola Rosea shown to reduce stress and lift the mood, which is why it has long since been used by athletes in Russia
  • Magnesiummagnesium deficiencies are extremely common, even though magnesium promotes relaxation while regulating the way in which the body responds to stressful situations
  • Valerian Roota herb that is commonly used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia, and has been proven to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate 

Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, you do need to ensure that you purchase any supplements from a reliable source, and only use high quality products.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times as a stress reliever, and can really be quite effective.

Not quite sure what aromatherapy is exactly?

It makes use of aromatic plant oils, such as essential oils, as well as other aromatic plant compounds to boost both physical and psychological well-being.

Plants can be extremely powerful, and many people respond well to scents, making aromatherapy worth a try.

Want to give it a go?

The easiest way to get started is by using essential oils. The best oils for stress relief are:

  • Lavenderwhen this is rubbed on the skin, it enters the bloodstream in just five minutes, reducing stress and agitation and boosting mental concentration
  • Cedarwoodhas a calming effect on the mind, while triggering the brain to release serotonin, which helps to stabilize the mood
  • Limerefreshing and uplifting, lime can really help with stress and anxiety caused by grief or sadness
  • Rosepromotes tranquillity in the body while boosting self-esteem and helping with depression
  • Orangea study carried out in Japan showed that patients taking orange oil for stress and depression were able to reduce their intake of antidepressant medications
  • Sandalwoodhas a therapeutic effect on the brain, helping to balance your emotions 

Wondering how to actually use these oils?

Some can be applied directly to the skin and then inhaled, although others will need to be mixed with a carrier oil, so make sure to thoroughly research the oils you choose to use.

Alternatively, place the oils in a diffuser, or sprinkle a few drops in a bath or shower.

Drink Some Tea

There is quite a bit of research out there that shows just how effective drinking tea can be when it comes to relieving stress.

Different studies prove different things, from the way in which drinking black tea can lower the levels of the stress hormone in their body to those who drink tea being able to de-stress much quicker than those who do not.

Just about all types of tea will have this effect, but you do need to be drinking it on a regular basis in order to experience these results.

Chew Some Gum

Don’t like tea?

Try chewing some gum instead.

This is actually something that has been done for centuries, with even the Ancient Mayans and Greeks chewing on tree sap. This practice was introduced to settlers, after which it spread all over the world, resulting in the modern day chewing gum we know today.

Wondering how chewing gum can help with stress?

Research suggests that chewing gum is able to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, leaving you feeling less stressed. It also helps to wake your brain up, keeping you feeling more alert and perceptive, meaning that you will be much better equipped to deal with stressors that come your way. 

If you find that this helps you…

You need to make sure that you do not rely on this stress-relieving method completely.

Why?

Because people who chew gum for stress tend to bite down harder on the gum each time they chew, and chew much more aggressively. This can then lead to jaw problems, which can get quite serious. 

Write It Down

The next time you are feeling stressed, try writing about it.

Keeping a journal is actually quite a meditative practice, and can help to reduce stress and its symptoms.

Happy young woman writing in her journal

Not sure what to write about?

Write about the stressors you are currently experiencing, noting everything from what triggered the stressful situation to who you were with and how you feel, both physically and emotionally.

By doing this on a regular basis, you will be able to identify new patterns in your stressors, and may even be able to find a way to tackle these directly.

Give Someone a Hug

This may sound too easy to be effective, but giving somebody a hug can really help to relieve stress.

How?

Because hugging triggers your body to release oxytocin, a hormone that helps to promote relaxation in the mind, while boosting your mood and making you feel so much more positive about stressful situations.

Try to hug your loved ones multiple times a day to really take advantage of this.

Laugh

Laughing can be a fantastic way to relieve stress

You are probably thinking…

“I don’t feel like laughing when I’m feeling stressed!”

Even forcing yourself to laugh can make a huge difference.

How?

In a few different ways, such as:

  • By directly reducing cortisol levels
  • By bringing more oxygen into your body and into all of your organs
  • By relaxing your muscles to emphasize tension-relief

Give Yoga a Try

A study carried out on people experiencing chronic stress discovered that yoga was able to help relieve stress in 85% of subjects.

Yoga not only relaxes the body, but it relaxes the mind too, helping it to slow down.

It also encourages effective breathing, which, as mentioned above in the section on breathing exercises, can be so effective in reducing stress and its symptoms.

Already a fan of yoga?

Give some of these poses a try for the best stress-relieving effects:

    • Wide-legged forward bend
    • Low lunge pose
    • Standing forward bend
    • Garland pose
    • Legs up the wall
    • Bound angle pose 

Listen to Calming Music

It has long since been known that music can have such a relaxing effect on the body, and science has now proved this.

Listening to music can really help to promote relaxation within the body, not only lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, but also the amount of cortisol in your body.

Happy young woman listening to music on her earphones

Wondering what you should be listening to for maximum stress-relieving benefits?

Any type of music that you enjoy can help, but, for best results, slow-paced and instrumental music is ideal. Give classical, Native American and Celtic music a try, but make sure you pick something that you actually enjoy the sound of.

Eat Stress-Busting Foods

You are likely already aware of how the foods that you eat have a direct impact on your body, and this applies to the stress that you are feeling too.

There are many ways in which certain foods can help to relieve stress, such as:

  • Complex carbsfoods such as whole grain bread and oatmeal encourage the brain to produce more serotonin, giving your body a steady supply of this feel-good chemical
  • Fruits high in vitamin Cfruits such as oranges, lemons and strawberries help to reduce cortisol levels in the body while strengthening the immune system, all thanks to their vitamin C content
  • Leafy greens packed with magnesium, leafy greens can help to reduce stress-related symptoms
  • Avocadosthese are high in potassium, with half an avocado containing more potassium than a whole medium-sized banana. Potassium can really help to lower blood pressure, but be sure not to overdo it with the avocados, as they are also quite high in calories

Stress can really have such a negative effect on your life, which is why it is important to tackle this head on and keep your stress levels under control. The next time you find yourself feeling stressed, give a few of these stress-relieving tips a try to see what works best for you.

 

Woman with headphones on the bed

Add Pink Noise To Your Bedroom Routine

Let’s face it, everything is better in pink. If there are two cupcakes, one with white icing and one with pink, which one do you pick? Hostess snowballs? Definitely better in pink. If your Mom bought you and your sister notebooks, she had better have made sure both or neither were pink. Party dresses? Don’t even go there.

If you are familiar with white noise, you know it to be that pleasant buzzing that often occurs when the radio loses reception. It is often used in healthcare to block out noise caused by hearing impairments or as a sleep aid, but did you know about pink noise? Although it may sound like the latest psychedelic rock movement, pink noise is more accurately the latest proposed solution to sleep interruption. And, according to a recent study, it may actually help to improve memory as well.

Sound Stimulation and Sleep
According to recent research done at Northwestern University, when gentle sound stimulation is synced up to the rhythm of brain waves, it can not only lead to a better sleep in older adults, but can also improve their ability to remember specific words.

Why Deep Sleep Is important
Memory loss typically occurs throughout the process of aging; so does the gradual decrease in deep sleep. Scientists suspect a connection. Because deep sleep is a critical component in the consolidation of memory, it is believed that a reduction in one may be responsible for a reduction in the other. Therefore, scientists believe that using sound stimulation to induce deep sleep may be the solution to memory loss.

During deep sleep, brainwave production is reduced to a rate of one per second, quite a bit slower than the 10 oscillations that happen during the seconds when one is awake. Giovanni Santstasi, co-author of the study was able to create an algorithm capable of transmitting audio during the rising of slow wave oscillations, to boost the synchronization of neural activity.

Woman sleeping

The Study
The study was comprised of 13 individuals aged 60 and up recruited from Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. It targeted individuals suffering from low levels of sleep and memory loss.

The aim of the study was to monitor brain waves in individuals using a breakthrough audio system that can lock in audio stimulation at the moment when specific neuron communication occurs during deep sleep.

Participants were exposed to a night of acoustic stimulation followed by a night of false stimulation. The two stimulations were identical, except for the fact that the individuals did not hear noise in the false stimulation. Upon awakening, the subjects were given memory tests, with another set given the following morning.

Results
The study found that while memory recall ability rose by a couple of percentage points following the false stimulation, those who listened to the pink noise showed a vast increase in memory recall. In fact, those who were subjected to the acoustic stimulation showed three times as much improvement as their counterparts. These finding suggest that slow wave sleep can indeed have a significant impact on memory.

What Does This Mean?
For those suffering memory loss, the new is good. It suggests that there might be a way to safely improve memory without the use of expensive, side effect inducing medicine. “Pink noise” may offer a completely safe and simple alternative.

What do you think about the latest findings? Is pink the new white? Let us know!

Woman holding a basket of fresh fruits

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Woman having a bath

Adult Bath Time Is Good For Stress

“The boss! The baby! The dog! That does it! Calgon! Take me away!” You may remember the classic 1970’s Calgon commercials. A woman comes home, the image of her angry cigar -smoking boss still fresh in her mind, her crying child and barking dog, still taunting her memory. It all melds into a spinning wheel of confusion; the woman throws up her hands in frustration.The scene changes. The same woman in a bath filled with Calgon bath bubbles. The soothing voiceover encouraging her to lose herself in luxury. The stress formerly seen in the woman’s face replaced by a blissful expression. She has found her escape.

For years, bath times have been viewed as a source of stress relief. The warm water, the soothing scent, all calling up a sense of comfort and intense relaxation. Are you more than ready to make your bath time into a tranquil escape from insanity? Here’s all you need to know about perfecting your adult bathing experience.

Set the Mood
You know lighting is a very important part of atmosphere. Ditch those regular wall lights and get experimental. Try some old fashioned candles or tea lights which you can strategically place all around your bathroom; just keep them away from the towels!

Crank Some Tunes
Music is a crucial element when it comes to relaxation, just make sure it’s something you like. You can get sassy with Beyonce or Adele, or go more traditional with some classical movement. If heavy metal is more your thing, just make sure you don’t rock all the water out of your bath!

Snacks
You can’t relax if your hungry and you sure don’t want to leave the bath to search through your kitchen, so make sure to have some of your favorite snacks on hand, just make sure your chips don’t end up floating next to your rubber ducky!

Temperature
The optimal temperature is an absolute must if you want to achieve bath time nirvana. 33.3 degrees celsius is the recommended water temperature; it should not exceed 38.3, which will be too hot and may leave you feeling drowsy.

Woman with red wine in bath

Red Wine
Red, red wine, it makes you feel so fine. Not only might you want to sip while you soak, but you may want to actually mix the wine with the bath water. It will not only smell great, but it will treat your skin to some beneficial antioxidant action.

Don’t Dehydrate
Just because you’re soaking in water, it doesn’t mean you are safe from dehydration. You might be surprised at the amount of perspiration a body can produce in a hot bath. Have a cool glass of water on hand and it may be useful to keep a flannel and jug of water close by so you can make yourself a cold compress if you start to feel sweaty.

Face Mask
While you’re pampering, why not apply a face mask? It will nourish and cleanse the skin on your face while the bath does the same to the skin on your body.

Self Massage
While your muscles are relaxing, you might as well address the problem spots. You can use a water proof ball resting it against a solid surface, while exerting pressure on it evenly. The water will help to control the degree of intensity you apply.

Bath Oils
The type of bath oils you chose may effect the type of benefits your bath can give. Lavender oil is known to encourage sleep and sandalwood oil can help relieve anxiety. Just add about ten drops when the bath is half full to allow even distribution and a sufficient amount of scent.

Support Your Head
The last thing you want is a stiff neck when you’re trying to relax. Fold up a couple of towel for a makeshift pillow.

How do you like your bathing experience? Do you have some anti-stress tips for us? We’d love to know!