Something all of us could likely benefit from.
Stress seems to follow us around everywhere — it weasels its way into our work, school, relationships, basically anything it can manage to stir up. Unfortunately it’s not realistic to envision a life completely free of stress, but luckily there are some ways to better manage the stress in your life.
SEE ALSO: Neuroscience Tips to Remain Calm under Pressure
According to stress researchers and scientific studies, these are some of the 8 best ways to take control of your stress.
1. Take deep breaths
This is the one you’ve probably been told time and time again, but it really can make all the difference. In fact, the American Institute of Stress calls deep breathing a “super stress buster.”
When you’re anxious or stressed, you may not even realize that you’ve started taking shorter, quicker breaths. Taking deep breaths can help increase the supply of oxygen to your brain, slow your heart rate, and relax certain stomach muscles.
2. Play with a dog
Seriously, science says so! According to a 2009 study, the simple act of making eye contact with a dog releases oxytocin, often referred to as the love or hug hormone — it makes us feel good.
Previous research has linked oxytocin with anti-stress benefits like reduced blood pressure and decreased corticosterone levels, which is involved in the regulation of stress responses.
3. Make a budget
According to the American Psychological Association, money continues to make the top of the list as the most stressful factor for Americans. Making a budget for yourself can help prevent overspending, and following a spending plan can help give you peace of mind when it comes to money-related stress.
Yoga continues to gain popularity, and there’s no wonder why. In addition to the physical benefits, like strength, balance, and increased flexibility, yoga also provides extensive benefits on mental well-being.
The Mayo Clinic says yoga is a mind-body practice that encourages controlled breathing and meditation or relaxation. Yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate. Why not give it a try?
5. Listen to soothing music or nature soundtracks
Research has shown that listening to soothing sounds like nature soundtracks can lower stress-related blood pressure and heart rate. Another study that measured cortisol hormone levels, heart rate, and reported levels of stress and anxiety found that listening to music before a typical stressful situation made it easier for the nervous system to recover.
In fact, “music therapy” is a real area of treatment that is used to reduce stress and distract patients from unpleasant symptoms. If you’re having a particularly stressful day, put on some jams and let your stress take the backseat.
6. Relax your mind with drawing or painting
You don’t have to be a modern day Monet in order to make a little time for some art. Adult coloring books are becoming more and more popular, and research has suggested that the act of mindlessly coloring pre-designed mandalas can reduce anxiety.
Not only is art therapy a relaxation technique, but it also might have other cognitive benefits like triggering dormant memories in Alzheimer’s patients.
7. To-do lists are your friend!
Staying organized can be a huge help in managing your stress levels — who would’ve thought? Keeping a to-do list and staying up-to-date in a planner can help you better organize your tasks and errands, and also ensure that you don’t have to deal with that feeling of panic when you realize you forgot something. Not only will this help you manage your stress levels, but it will also keep you focused on what needs to get done.
8. Give yourself a break from your emails
“Email-related stress” is a real thing now, and the way you manage your inbox can make a difference on your stress levels, according to recent research. The researchers found that those who had the most email stress were in the habit of checking their work emails at night and first thing in the morning. So while you’re at work, by all means, manage your inbox. But when you’re off the clock, give your mind a break.