Tuesday, November 1, 2011

6 Tips to Reduce Your Stress

Stress is serious business. It can break down our bodies just as quickly as it breaks down our minds. Try a few of these tips to see if you can limit its negative effects.
1.It’s the Little Things
Major events have a way to bringing out the crazy in us. But did you know that small annoyances can actually lead to bigger problems?
Clinical professor at the University of Colorado, James Ehrlich, MD, says, “For some people, the little stressors we face every day are more damaging to health over the long term than the really big things, like a death in the family or a car accident.”
The reason, Ehrlich says, is that “Today, many people live in stress mode all the time, and the constant release of steroids like adrenaline and cortisol can lead directly to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer, and indirectly to bad health habits like under sleeping and overeating.”
A messy house or tiff with a friend might seem like a small matter, but it’s not. Take care of these little concerns and you’ll go a long way in cutting down on stress, protecting your health, and ratcheting up your happiness.
2. The Truth About Fog
I just found this statistic and had to share it with you. Not only is it interesting, but it can also help you regain perspective when things start to unravel.
According to the Bureau of Standards, “A dense fog covering seven city blocks, to a depth of 100 feet, is composed of something less than one glass of water.”
Can you imagine? Something so big actually fitting into a drinking glass.
It’s a lot like our worries. They seem enormous, but are actually much, much smaller. In fact, studies show that 92% of the thing people worry about: never happen (40%), can’t be changed (30%), are needless health concerns (12%), or are trivial worries that don’t actually matter (10%). Just 8% of what you worry about is worth all that worry. A mighty fog has been pushed into a tiny glass.
3. A New Route to Work
Here’s a simple tip you can use later today. Researchers at Ohio State University found that students who viewed a driving video of a scenic pathway through a park showed less signs of stress than students who watched videos of highway driving with strip malls and billboards.
It might take a bit longer, but a scenic drive to and from work may be just the break you need to wash the stress out of your system.
4. Quick Fix
Need to relax in a hurry? Lynn Ponton, MD, suggests lying on the floor with your hands under your face, breathing deeply and slowly, for five minutes. With how good it feels to relax, I think it’s worth a shot.
5. Ancient Wisdom
India’s 5,000 year-old medical guide, the Ayurveda, speaks of ‘marma’ points in the ears (aka. acupuncture points) that correspond to particular parts of your body. For instant relief, rub the outer edge of your ears with each hand. I’ve tried it. It works.
6. The Best Medicine?
Laughter has long been touted as nature’s best medicine. Not a bad thought, given the facts about laughter’s effect on the body. Did you know that laughing has been scientifically proven to reduce muscle tension, get the heart, lungs, and diaphragm working (easy exercise!), and increases the production of endorphins (natural painkillers)?
It’s true. And there’s more.
Not to go technical on you, but medical research scientists Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine found that laughing also “lowers serum cortisol levels, increases the amount of activated T lymphocytes, increases the number and activity of natural immune system killer cells, and increases the number of T cells that have helper / suppresser receptors.” In other words, you boost your immune system when you laugh.
Who would have thought the class clown could make you live longer?
Now, you could wait until something strikes you as funny. Or you could be proactive. With all of the benefits, why not put yourself in a situation that is likely to make you laugh?
Read humorists (I like Ian Frazier and S. J. Perelman). Page through comics (Calvin and Hobbes fan here). Listen to comedy albums (Bob Newhart, anyone?).
Watch funny movies. Learn new jokes. Go to a comedy club, spend time with a funny friend, or actually open one of the forty-seven forwards your co-worker sends you every day.
You could also fake it. Just as a forced smile can improve your mood, fake laughter can trigger the same benefits as the real thing. Go ahead, give it a try.
So, what about you?