Stress-proof your life
Traffic jams, cellphone hiccups, overflowing garbage cans…life’s little irritants can really rattle your nerves! Take a deep breath—these study-backed soothers will help you keep your cool no matter what the day brings!
Soothe nervousness by speed-chewing gum
Rapidly chewing a stick of gum for three minutes slashes your body’s output of stress hormones, research in the Journal of Prosthodontic
Research shows. The study authors theorize that fast chewing sends a rush of blood to the brain, which helps the brain regions that manage stress work more effectively. Or wash your hands! Have trouble making decisions, then fret about whether you’ve made the right choice? Wash away worry by washing your hands! University of Michigan researchers say sudsing up tells the brain to “wipe the slate clean” of any of the lingering doubt that spurs regret!
Enjoy calm energy all day with this massage
Targeted touch can stress-proof your day, according to practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They recommend massaging three acupressure points in a clockwise direction for three minutes each: the spot between your eyebrows (called “Yin Tang”), the crease of each inner wrist below your pinkie (called “Shenmen”) and each inner ankle in the dip between the ankle bone and Achilles tendon (called “Taixi”). ✤ It works! Massaging these points decreases the stress hormone cortisol and increases mood-lifting endorphins and serotonin. And play sudoku! Games that challenge your brain really do tame tension Duke University researchers found that increasing activity in the problem-solving region of the brain balances out the regions causing anxiety, calming stress.
3 Stop a stress spiral by sniffing tea
When you notice tension rising, brew a cup of tea, then breathe in its aroma for 60 seconds. If you’re not near a kettle, just inhale the scent of a tea bag—you can stash one in your purse for instant ahh on the go! ✤ It works! A study in the Journal of Physiological
Anthropology revealed that inhaling aroma compounds (such as hexanal, hexanol and linalool) in black tea ushers in calm by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response. Tip: Darjeeling tea (available at supermarkets) has even more of these stress-busting aromatic compounds! Then sip! Drink black or Darjeeling tea every day and in six weeks, you’ll return to a relaxed state faster after a tense event, British researchers report. Natural antianxiety plant compounds in tea leaves accumulate in your body, where they help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Sail through challenges by making an early Christmas list
Facing an ordeal that puts you on edge? Think about the gifts you want to give family and friends when the holidays roll around. Researchers in Australia say the happy thoughts this generates make you far more relaxed during stressful events. Plus, you’ll be ready for the holidays! ✤ It works! Thoughts of loved ones curb the body’s stress response and cut output of the stress hormone noradrenaline (the one that gives you that uncomfortable amped-up feeling).
Or revisit your last vacation! Recalling a happy time in your past, such as a family trip to the beach, activates pleasure-triggering regions of the brain, report researchers in the journal Neuroreport. This switches you from a stressed to a sunny state.
Boost your resilience by using the “wrong” hand
If you wish daily irritations rolled off your back, this trick can help: Use your nondominant hand for tasks such as brushing your teeth and holding a fork. Within two weeks, you’ll be better able to stay calm, no matter what! And procrastinate a little! When you’ve got a difficult-to-do task, tackle it in the afternoon and it’ll feel less bothersome than if you did it earlier, according to a University of Oklahoma study. The reason: Your body’s level of cortisol naturally drops later in the day, making you less sensitive to stressors.
✤ It works! According to a study in the Journal of Research
in Personality, using your nondominant hand strengthens the brain region responsible for helping you stay patient in the face of annoyances.