Ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? Looming deadlines, family drama, a big zit before a hot date… sigh. But when life throws you a curveball, don’t stress. Instead, try one of these quick and easy stress relief techniques. They’re all backed by science and will help you relax in no time. Psst, one of them involves eating chocolate!
Eat some chocolate
Dark chocolate, we mean. In a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, volunteers who ate 40g of dark chocolate every day for two weeks had lower levels of stress hormones in their body. Another plus: dark chocolate also has antioxidants that may reduce risk factors for heart conditions.
How to relax: Go ahead and pop some dark chocolate in your mouth. Eat these yummy treats in moderation, of course!
Talk to like-minded friends
Stressed out about an upcoming presentation? Confide in your office BFF who feels the same way and you’ll both feel more relaxed. This is the finding from USC Marshall School of Business research. According to the study, “sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state… buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat.” A problem shared is a problem halved indeed!
How to relax: Seek out like-minded individuals to confide in (i.e. do not share about your work woes with the super confident and ambitious Know-It-All in the office).
Give your inbox a break
You’re going to like this one. Recent research by the University of British Columbia in Canadadiscovered that easing up on checking emails helped to lower stress levels. In the study, some participants were limited to checking email thrice daily, while others were free to check their inboxes as often as they liked. “Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often,” says Kostadin Kushlev, the study’s lead author.
How to relax: Check your email at specific times of the day and respond to them in chunks, rather than constantly replying messages as they trickle in one by one.
Listen to music
In one study, researchers found that listening to music provided relief for heart disease patients suffering from anxiety. Listening to music helped lower stress by reducing their heart rate, blood pressure and overall anxiety levels.
How to relax: On a stressful day, pop your headphones on and chill out to your favourite tunes.
Mindfulness – being aware of the present moment and your surroundings – can be a huge stress reliever. Recent research from Carnegie Mellon University in the US found that practising mindfulness for 25 minutes for three consecutive days helps to alleviate psychological stress. The same study also found that being mindful helped participants to be more resilient in stressful situations.
How to relax: An easy way to practise mindfulness is to sit still and be aware of the breaths you take, and how they feel. In, out, in out…
Text: Dawn Chen / Shape Singapore / December 2017
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For more mental health stories, read Why Social Media Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health and 1 In 33 Singaporeans Are Affected By This Mental Health Issue.