This might be a silly question, but… Do you ever get stressed out? I’m sure none of us can be truly happy and in a total state of calm 100% of the time. And according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, people are only getting more and more stressed by the year.
APA found that the average stress levels in the United States have continued to rise since 2014 (from 4.9 to 5.1 on a 10-point stress scale). Also, there was an increase among adults reporting states of extreme stress. 24% said they were highly stressed in 2015. While, in 2014, 18% said they were stressed.
Moreover, since 2007, the APA has conducted an annual stress surveyed and keep on seeing to same things coming up: money (67%) and work (65%) are the top two sources of stress.
But even without the above information, it’s clear that we live in a high-strung society and the repercussions on our mental health is inevitable. Luckily, there are just many de-stressors out there as there are stressors. (I’d say even more so!)
Here are some valuable not-so-common tips that are backed by science:
1 Hugs. Lots of Them!
A prominent Family Therapist by the name of Satir suggests that humans need four hugs per day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve for growth.
That’s quite a bit of hugging! But that’s not all, according to science, embracing, hand-holding, and any kind of affectionate touch releases a high volume of feel-good hormones like oxytocin.
What does this mean for your health? For one thing, oxytocin lowers the levels of stress hormones in your body which leads to reduced blood pressure, improved mood, and increased pain tolerance.
Not so fast… I’m talking about black tea here.
A 2010 study by UCL (University College London) that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that tea-drinkers were able to destress more quickly than those who drank a fake tea substitute.
Furthermore, the participants who drank a black tea concoction four times per day for six weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event. Alternatively, the control group who drank the placebo tea for the same period of time didn’t have a notable change in their cortisol levels.
But it’s not just the tea that will help, it’s the way in which you drink it. Make a meditative experience out it!
[Related Post: The Thich Nhat Hanh Guide to Drinking Tea like a Zen Master.]
3 Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
This soothing exercise involves your entire body. From head to toe, tense up and then release each muscle group (lower arm, upper arm, chest, back and abs, etc.). As soon as the body becomes less tense, the mind will follow suit. Combine this method with deep breathing and the calming effect will be that much more profound.
4 Take Out Your Crayons and Drawing Pad or Go Buy Some from the Store.
Coloring is a form of art therapy, which has shown to help not only cancer patients, but people suffering from anxiety, panic disorder, and stress as well.
An Australian Brain Scientist at the University of New South Wales presented a very interest explanation for the therapeutic effect of coloring. Dr. Joel Pearson suggests that concentrating on the simple act of coloring an image may help replace negative thoughts with more pleasant ones.
If you go on Amazon and type “adult coloring books,” you’ll find thousands of them to choose from. 🙂
5 Eat Some Nuts.
More specifically, cashews. Or even cashew butter!
There’s this one amino acid called Trytophan and it just happens to be more present in cashews than any other food. Basically, it improves overall serotonin uptake in the brain.
So if this crucial amino acid lacks in our diets? Serotonin production won’t be as effective and our bodies will have a harder time using the serotonin that is already present. Serotonin depletion = stress.
How do you go about eliminating stress?
1. “Americans Are Getting More Stressed Out, Study Finds.”
2. “The Power of Love: Hugs and Cuddles Have Long-Term Effects.”
3. “Black Tea Soothes Away Stress.”
4. “What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Relaxation Techniques.”
5. “The Therapeutic Science Of Adult Coloring Books: How This Childhood Pastime Helps Adults Relieve Stress.”
6. “How Cashews Can Help with Stress and Anxiety.”
*DISCLAIMER: Always consult a medical professional before applying the advice given throughout this website. While the articles on HMM are thoroughly researched, it is important to speak with your medical provider before starting a new exercise routine or introducing something new to your diet. We ourselves are NOT doctors, so the information we feature should not be used to replace any of your medications or lifestyle choices that have been recommended by your doctor. Read at your own risk and read our full disclaimer here.*