Feeling stressed about work and family responsibilities? There are plenty of quick things you can do to reduce your tension. Throw a comedy into the DVD player, invite over some friends, and share a few good laughs. Every time you crack up, increased oxygen courses to your organs, blood flow increases, and stress evaporates. In fact, just thinking about having a good laugh is enough to lower your stress hormone levels.
Pet Your Dog
Your pet not only gives you unconditional love, but he's also good for your health. When you pet your dog even for just a few minutes, your body releases feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. At the same time, it decreases the amount of the damaging stress hormones that are released. That can mean lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and even a boost in immunity.
Clean the Clutter
Being surrounded by too much stuff can be overwhelming and contribute to stress. It brings on anxiety when you can't find your checkbook, your child's homework, or the utility bill. So de-clutter to de-stress. Tackle a drawer, a shelf, or a tabletop at a time. An uncluttered space can feel satisfying and restorative. As an added plus, spring cleaning is good exercise, burning more than 250 calories an hour.
Mow the Lawn
Cutting the lawn might sound like work, but the smell of freshly mown grass actually can make you feel more relaxed. Scientists say chemicals from newly cut grass help block the release of stress hormones in the brain. Just remember to wear earplugs to drown out the mower, because too much loud noise can send your stress rate soaring again.
Drink Some Orange Juice
The tart beverage that already may be a regular part of your morning routine could help you in surprising ways. Researchers say vitamin C may help people manage their stress more effectively, in part by lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. As an added bonus, vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, grapefruit juice, strawberries, or sweet red peppers can help boost your immune system.
Sing a Song
Turn up the radio in the car or start crooning in the shower. No matter how out of tune you are, singing can make you feel happier. Choral members who were surveyed said singing put them in a better mood and made them feel less stressed. Singing also can be good for your breathing and posture, as well as your heart and immune system.
Take a Walk
Exercise is a great way to ease stress. It helps your body produce endorphins -- the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good. It also forces you to focus, helping you forget what's making you anxious. Exercising in warm, sunny weather can boost your mood. And if you walk briskly for at least 30 minutes, you'll meet daily exercise recommendations, and ramp up stress-busting benefits even more.
Chew Some Gum
Chewing gum can do more than freshen your breath. According to research, chewing a stick of gum also seems to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve mental performance during tasks. In one study, not only did gum chewers report they were less stressed, they were also less depressed and less likely to see a doctor for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
When you're stressed out, getting frisky might be the last thing on your mind. But having sex is actually a great way to relieve tension and ease stress. Sex lowers blood pressure, boosts self-esteem, and increases feelings of intimacy with your partner. It can also help you sleep better, which is a great benefit when you've spent sleepless nights stressing about problems.
Take a Deep Breath
Aromatherapy isn't just for spas. No matter where you are, taking a deep whiff of lavender or rosemary can put you into a more relaxed state. Inhaling those aromas can lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But just the act of breathing deeply is also a stress buster. Deep breathing sends oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm your entire body.
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.