Stress can affect anyone at any time in their life, but knowing and using clever stress management techniques is a sure-fire way of relieving it.
Too much stress can have dire consequences in both our professional and private lives, and whereas medication can be a short-term solution, there are many other stress management techniques, backed by science, that are much more effective in the long-term.
Here are ten stress management techniques backed by science:
Exercise is essential to good physical and mental health. There are countless studies that show even a moderate amount of exercise, such as walking for 20 minutes a day, can help to boost your overall mood, improve sleep and combat stress and depression. Recent scientific studies have even found that when you exercise and strengthen your muscles, an enzyme is released helps to combat a substance called kynurenine, which is produced by stress.
2. Get more sleep
Are you one of those people that work on a PC or laptop before you try and go to sleep? Research has shown that the blue light emitted from such devices is particularly bad for the body’s internal clock and can actually slow down the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This is because the light is shining directly into the eyes of the reader, whereas if you are reading from a printed book you only see reflected light.
3. Meditate more
You probably already know that meditation is one of the most effective stress management techniques and research constantly confirms it. A study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, found that people who meditate frequently produce chemicals that help to combat the production of stress hormones.
It also increases the happy hormones such as dopamine that elevate our moods and help us react in a calmer manner. Meditation also lowers blood pressure which is key in stressful situations.
4. Stop looking at your smartphones
Researchers in the UK have discovered a connection between those who constantly check their smartphones and rising levels of stress. The stress levels rose not in a work context, but rather in participant’s personal lives. The study showed that the more a person checked their smartphones, the more stressful they were likely to feel. Researchers stated that whilst it is good to stay connected, we all need a break at some point.
5. Try mindfulness
Mindfulness is a recent buzzword that we have all heard of, but research has shown that focussing on the present prevents us from worrying and feeling stressed. It has been proven to be one of the most successful stress management techniques and even top tech companies such as Google and Target practise the art of mindfulness. It has a proven track record of reducing anxiety and stress and studies have shown that it actually changes the way your brain is wired.
6. Check your emails less frequently
A study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that people who were asked to limit the amount of time they checked their emails were less stressed than those who were told they had unlimited access. Those who managed to resist the temptation said they were much less stressed than those who kept checking.
7. Get out into nature
There are hundreds of studies that prove getting outside into nature is beneficial to our mental health. In fact, nature is such a powerful stress-buster that researchers at Stanford University found that even just looking at nature pictures is enough to relieve stress.
The colour green is also a very relaxing colour and does not strain out the eyes, which is why surgeons wear green scrubs so that they do not get tired during surgery.
8. Get up earlier than everyone else.
Studies have shown that people who are early birds tend not to suffer from stress as much as night owls. Those who get up earlier also generally tend to perform better at work, have more career opportunities and are typically more proactive. All these traits are great stress-busters in their own right.
9. Carry out repetitive chores
Research from Florida State University found that doing repetitive chores such as washing up or vacuuming the house actually reduced stress levels.
It is thought that this is because performing repetitive chores brings on a state that is similar to mindfulness and therefore calms down the mind and body. In fact, anything that is repetitive, like knitting or cooking a familiar dish can be relaxing.
10. Helping others
Studies from the Association for Psychological Science have found that the simple act of helping someone can have great benefits to your own mental health.
Study author Emily Ansell of the Yale University School of Medicine explained: “Our research shows that when we help others we can also help ourselves. Stressful days usually lead us to have a worse mood and poorer mental health, but our findings suggest that if we do small things for others, such as holding a door open for someone, we won’t feel as poorly on stressful days.”
Dealing with stress has become one of the 21st century’s most talked about subjects. It is important for your mental and physical health so using one or two of these stress management techniques can certainly help you to lead a less stressful life.