Take a Load Off
Simply elevate your feet above your heart. This redirects blood flow, which has a calming effect much like that of inversions in yoga. Except here you don't have to be especially flexible or block out time for a yoga class.
Chew on Pumpkin Seeds
A hundred grams (less than a cup) of pumpkin seeds contain almost 600 mg of the amino acid tryptophan, which we need for the production ofserotonin and melatonin—hormones that are essential to sleep and well-being. Tryptophan is also a treatment for depression, and it comes with a bonus: no nasty side effects.
Blow Out a Candle and Make a Wish
No need to wait for your birthday. The simple act of releasing a wish with a deep exhale can make you feel lighter and more optimistic. Studies show that people who visualize or mediate on positive outcomes experience more peace in their daily lives. And don't be shocked if that wish comes true: Since the neurons in our brains equate imagery with acton, one thing can lead to another.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more powerful than any other sense in our bodies. Sniffing coffee (or citrus fruit) helps you de-stress by creating balance between your nervous system, brain chemistry and hormones. It also counteracts the noxious odors that bombard us daily.
Two Words: Gyan Mudra
This Japanese commuter knows the secret to staying calm in an overcrowded subway car—the gyan mudra, a yoga hand gesture that inspires an instant feeling of connection and calm. Simply touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger, keeping the other three fingers stretched out. Holding this mudra is said to increase concentration, prevent insomnia and help to balance mood disorders.
Have a Good Laugh
Watch "I Love Lucy," "Monty Python," or an early episode of "Saturday Night Live." Laughing stimulates the Vagus nerve, reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood and increasing serotonin production in the brain. A good laugh also boosts energy, and a new study shows that it may improve short-term memory as we get older.
A 2007 study conducted by medical researchers in New Zealand confirmed the long-held belief that, among its many healing properties, honey reduces anxiety and calms the mind. Try combining this ancient remedy with a nice cup of tea.
Have a Good Cry
Crying is uniquely human, and like laughter, it stimulate the Vagus nerve and thus reduces stress. So let go! If you feel inhibited, just stream one of these movies: "An Affair to Remember," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" or "Casablanca" (especially that scene in which nearly everyone at Rick's sings "La Marseillaise"). There will be tears.
Crank Up Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now"
Jimmy Cliff's 1993 cover of this reggae-inspired classic is terrific, but Nash's 1972 recording is the original—guaranteed to turns any day bright and sunshiny. If you really want to relax, sing along. Singing loosens tight muscles and opens up the chest. At the end of the song, look all around—nothing but blue skies!
Write It Out
One of the biggest causes of stress is holding on to negative or troubling emotions. The simple act of writing out your worries and frustrations—even for just 10 minutes a day—can ease your mind and give you a better night's sleep.
Hear the Uncaged Bird Sing
The poets had this one right: Lose yourself to birdsong, escape the troubles of this earth. Even recorded, this sweet sound calms our central nervous system. British researcher Eleanor Ratcliffe has spent the past three years studying "the restorative effects of natural sounds like birdsong." According to ecologist Peter Brash, "Birdsong gets us closer to nature and links people to places and memories in a way that few other sounds can."
Pet Something Furry
A growing body of research suggests that the benefits of having a dog or a cat go beyond the obvious fact that pets are adorable. One study compared married couples who owned pets with those who did not. Surprise—the couples with pets had lower resting heart rates, increased serotonin production and lower blood pressure. They were also more likely to report a general sense of well-being.
Run Cold Water Over Your Wrists
Let cooler heads prevail. By dripping cool water on the pressure points on your wrist and splashing it behind your ears, you cool the arteries right under the skin, taking that heat down a notch and calming the whole body.
Gaze at Indigo
According to the ancient Vedas, blue is the color of wisdom. It's also a calming color. Indigo, the shade of the third-eye chakra (located between the eyebrows), is widely reported to have a soothing effect. Visualizing this color at the third eye point induces an experience of wholeness, peace, tranquility.
Step in Mud
Walking barefoot in mud is a grounding practice, one that connects you to the earth and puts you in touch with your own body. The result: a deep sense of well-being.
Shake a Tail Feather
The mere act of moving your tired muscles improves blood flow in the heart, which relieves anxiety and makes you feel free and expansive. Our world is a musical sphere and we were made to dance. So join the party!
Go to Yoga Class
There are countless studies that have championed yoga as a major stress and anxiety reliever. Yoga helps you access inner strength and also teaches you to breathe through the fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life.
Laugh With Your Friends
Laughter is one of the best things for your health and happiness. Laughter relaxes your whole body, relieves physical tension, and increase the endorphins released by your brain. When you're stressed, one of the best things you can do is grab some friends and just be silly.
Eat Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
When you're stressed, there's truly nothing better than chocolate. Nutritionists recommend dark chocolate over milk, as dark chocolate helps to reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Also, the vitamin C in the berries can fight body-damaging free radicals.
Take a Bath
One of the tried and true methods for combatting stress is taking a bath. There's nothing like a good soak to wash away the muck of the day and enhance your mood. It's also recommended to add lavender to your bath, which reduces anxiety and emotional stress (and smells heavenly).
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