You might not be able to avoid stress, but you can do things to reduce it. Start making your days more stress-free with these 10 simple tips:
Crank up the tunes.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Bach or Beyoncé—as long as it’s something you like. Research has shown again and again that music is a powerful stress buster.
Pet a dog.
Don’t have one? Not a problem. Give someone else’s dog a belly rub (probably best to ask first). Studies have shown that dog owners are less stressed and that pets can help lower blood pressure.
Take a hike.
And “hike” is relative. No need to finish the Appalachian Trail, even a casual stroll will do. Research from Cornell University found that spending as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting helped college students feel less stressed and happier.
Phone a friend.
As in, talking on an actual phone call—not a texting conversation. One study found that, for women in particular, spending time with friends helped release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.
Watch your favorite sitcom.
If you laugh until you snort your drink out through your nose, all the better. Research reveals that laughing releases endorphins, mood-boosting chemicals. It sparks your stress response, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, before lowering again, which creates a feeling of relaxation.
Or, if dancing’s not your thing, any type of exercise will do. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones, like cortisol, and releases endorphins, giving you that “runner’s high.”
Focus on your breath.
If you can meditate, even better, but even just thinking about the in and out of air through your lungs for a few moments can help quiet your mind—and your stress responses.
Stop and smell the roses—or at least a rose-scented candle.
Aromatherapy candles, diffusers and oils are thought to stimulate smell receptors in the nose, messaging the body’s system that controls emotions. Research has shown aromatherapy can decrease stress hormones, with lavender and rose as two scents especially promoted for their relaxing properties.
Studies have shown that chomping on gum can alleviate negative mood and reduce cortisol levels. (There was no indication in the research about whether or not blowing bubbles helps further, but we bet it does.)
Puckering up can help you calm down. Research suggests kissing releases chemicals that soothe hormones associated with stress, like cortisol.
Want more ways to enhance your overall wellness? Check out these additional tips.