We all know what stress is, but what can we do about it? There’s lots of ideas out there but are they backed up by solid research? Here are 5 simple but powerful stress reduction techniques that have been checked out by experts:
Black Tea Soothes Away Stress
Many people reach for a cuppa when they’re stressed. In many countries people will be offered tea after a shock or bad news. Research from University College London found that people recovered more quickly from every day stress when they drank black tea than when they drank a placebo. The black tea has an effect on stress hormone levels in the body.
Volunteer to beat stress
Barbara R. Edwards, MD, MPH says:
“One of the most surprisingly effective ways to enhance happiness and decrease stress is through volunteer work — that’s why I promote the idea that volunteering and being of service is a terrific way to improve your quality of life, and the lives of those in your community.”
Volunteering can reduce your blood pressure, make you grateful for the good things you have in your life, improve your self-worth and even prolong your life. So, it’s good for you and for the cause or people that you are helping.
Spending time in nature
Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan is lead author of some research on the power of nature to heal our troubles. She says:
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us. “
The research showed that taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. If you spent 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in nature, cortisol levels dropped at their greatest rate. After that, additional de-stressing benefits continue to add up but at a slower rate.
You may not be lucky enough to have easy access to nature, but is there a park where you could go at lunch time? Or could you just be outside and look for signs of birds or look at the sky? A simple, pleasurable activity to reduce your stress.
Challenge yourself to improve your ability to cope
If you are very stressed, you may think the last thing you want to do is challenge yourself. Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps build confidence. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster (UK) says:
“By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person.”
You don’t have to set yourself anything big or particularly difficult. Find a small challenge you can focus on and build on that.
Exercise to relieve stress
The Mayo Clinic says:
“Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.”
The chemical in your brain start to work with you more, rather than against you. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing – lifting weights, running, an exercise class. This can break the cycle of repetitive thoughts. You might even enjoy getting fitter.
All of these techniques have been shown through research to work. If you’re suffering from stress, which one will you try?
Like this evidence based approach? Check out my blog for more evidence-based health and happiness tips.