Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness month?
Yes, it’s the month to decrease our stress (as well as the other 11 months of the year!) We all need tips to de-stress- be it from work, family issues, and the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Although we may be well aware of the adverse effects that stress has on our health, such an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, we tend not to face it straight in the eye. Well, open your eyes and feast on these natural, healthy tips to de-stress!
In the Huffington Post (1), they listed 7 tips – I’ve chosen my top 5 tips …
Laugh It Up
If you’re feeling particularly stressed, perhaps it’s time to take a quick YouTube break. A small 1989 study in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences showed that “mirthful laughter” is linked with lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The Mayo Clinic reported that laughter also promotes endorphin release in the brain and relaxes the muscles, which are all key for stress relief.
Put your Green Thumb to work:
According to a study done in the Netherlands, Health.com reports that gardening can help to lower cortisol levels and boost mood among people who had just finished a stressful task.
That’s because doing something that requires “involuntary attention” — like sitting back and enjoying nature — helps to replenish ourselves, Health.com reported.
Read a book:
Just six minutes of reading is enough to help you de-stress, the Telegraph reported.
The study, which was sponsored by Galaxy chocolate, suggested that reading was linked with a slower heart rate and muscle relaxation. Drinking tea or coffee, listening to music and taking a walk also seemed to help lower stress, according to the Telegraph.
Phone your Mom:
Even if she’s not there in person, a call to mom can help lower stress. Even though my mom is going through some cognitive decline, it always is nice to hear her voice and check in with every day.
Scientific American reported on a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B showing that young girls who talked to their mothers on the phone after completing stressful tasks had decreased cortisol (the stress hormone) in their saliva, and increased oxytocin levels (the bonding hormone).
The girls who talked to their mothers on the phone had decreased cortisol and increased oxytocin levels compared with young girls who weren’t allowed to contact their mothers at all,Scientific American reported — girls who hugged their moms in person had a similar reaction to the phone group.
Indulge in some dark chocolate – but not the entire bar!
Dark chocolate doesn’t only have health benefits for the heart — eating it can also help to lower stress.
LiveScience reported on a study illustrating that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day for a two-week period is linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. That study was published in 2009 in the journal Proteome Research. (But of course, chocolate still contains sugar and lots of calories, so make sure you’re eating the chocolate in moderation!)
Here’s to less stress this month!