7 Scientifically Proven Stress-busters





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Many people don’t realise that stress is actually our body’s survival mechanism. When we are stressed, we release a chemical called cortisol which tenses up our muscles, increases our blood pressure and makes us more alert – this can help us to react and move faster in a fight or flight situation.




Unfortunately, human beings have evolved to experience stress in daily situations that aren’t dangerous – whilst it was useful for running away from predators as cavemen, it’s not so useful when delivering a speech or moving house. Experience stress to often can lead to a state of chronic stress, which is unhealthy for our body and mind. Constantly tensed muscles can lead to fatigue, constant alertness can lead to sleep deprivation and constantly high blood pressure can lead to heart disease (stress is often said to be the biggest killer for this reason).




Avoiding stressful situations isn’t always easy, however you can take steps to destress when you start to feel your body tensing up. Here are just seven scientifically backed stress-busters to try in order to flush out that cortisol from your body.




Exercise




Stress gets our body ready for a fight or flight situation – the best way to release all that tension is to do something active. Exercise can help to release feel-good endorphins that flush out the cortisol from our bodies. This could be any form of exercise that you see fit, whether it’s going on a run or taking out your stress on a punch bag. Stress could in fact be something to take advantage of as a natural energy boost – you could find that your perform better at exercise when you’ve got some stress built up inside you.




Find something that you work into your daily schedule. If you’re at work and you’re feeling stressed you could use five minutes of your lunch break to do some quick exercise. If you’re getting stressed over motherhood duties, consider getting out the house for the little one and going for a walk. So long as your releasing that energy, you’re certain to get rid of the stress.




Music




Listening to music that we love has also been found to lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels. This is thought to be for a variety of reasons. Firstly, out mind loves patterns and finds the organised nature of music soothing. Secondly, music can help serve as a distraction from the real world, allowing us to detach ourselves from the things that’s stressing us out.




You can combine music with exercise for a double combo stress-buster. You could also consider looking into music lessons and learn a musical instrument – playing an instrument or singing can be even more of a stress-reliever as it can help us to release our emotions. Classical has often been the go-to genre for calming oneself down, but really you should play/listen to whatever genre makes you happy whether this is smooth jazz or heavy metal.






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Hot baths




Ever wondered why a hot bath is so relaxing? The feeling of immersing oneself in hot water helps to flood our body with endorphins, helping to get rid of stress-causing cortisol. A hot bath also relaxes our tense muscles and gets blood flowing more freely.




A hot bath isn’t something you may be able to take in the middle of the day whilst at work, but it could be the perfect way to destress in the evening, helping you to feel relaxed and improve your ability to get to sleep. You can improve the destressing effects of a hot bath by using essential oils with calming aromas such as eucalyptus and lavender.




Waking up early




If you spend each morning rushing about to get ready, it could be worth getting up an hour earlier. Our stress levels throughout the day are affected by how stressed we are in the first hour of waking up - start the day stressed and you’ll continue to feel it for the rest of the day. Give yourself enough time to get up and get ready at your own pace.




This could mean going to sleep earlier in order to get a good night’s sleep. You can also try using a sleep app that wakes you up with an alarm when you’re in your least deepest sleep around the time when you want to get up.




Decluttering




Getting rid of clutter and organising things can also be a good destressing activity. When things aren’t going to plan in life and you’re feeling stressed, the task of decluttering can help you to feel as if you’re restoring some order to your life. Our minds react well to organisation and structure and are more able to concentrate - you could find that you work more productively with a tidy desk or that you’re able to get to sleep more easily in a tidy bedroom.




Next time you’re stressed, try taking steps to declutter a part of your life. This could be anything from tidying a room to rearranging files on a computer. You may dread the idea of such a chore, but once you get started you could find that your stress levels deplete.






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Laughter




Laughter is also good for our bodies. A good belly-aching laugh releases feelgood endorphins into our body, which helps to flush out the cortisol. Laughter has also been found to improve the immune system and even relieve chronic pain.




Next time you’re stressed, consider sitting down and watching one of your favourite comedies or going out with some friends who you often have a laugh with - anything that will get you chuckling.




Meditation




Meditation is also a stress-buster when done correctly. The act of meditation is all about removing yourself from the situation and refocusing your thoughts in a more positive way. On a stressful day, five minutes of meditation can be valuable for helping to reassess the situation and realise that things aren’t as devastating as they may seem, helping to lower your blood pressure and cortisol levels. Even when faced with tragic or traumatic events, you can use meditation to take yourself away from the situation and find peace by comparing your situation to the grander scheme of things.


Most people find that the best way to meditate is to close their eyes and isolate themselves so that they haven’t got any distractions. There are meditation classes that you can take and there are instructive meditation albums that you can use. You can accompany meditation with music to help bust the stress. You can even combine it with exercise - as is the case with sports such as yoga and pilates. Find your own way to disconnect - there’s no one way to meditate.