Exercise. Meditate. Breathe deeply. These are just three of the ways to relieve stress… and they don’t work for me at all. I should probably be studied. That being said, you have to find ways to chill that your body sincerely enjoys – otherwise when you fail miserably, you’re going to turn into me. (Yes, you just heard “Psycho Strings.”) For me, it’s the quirkier stress-relief techniques that do the trick, and they just might be your ticket to less anxiety too.
Here are 9 ways to relieve stress that are all about the quirk:
1. Plan a giggle session
When your anxiety’s starting to flare up, prescribe yourself with a few doses of laughter. It’s been known to relieve stress and anxiety. Seriously. Science says.
2. Chew gum
Chewing a stick of gum is a surprisingly easy way to relieve stress: A few minutes of chewing can reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
3. Take a sniff
When it comes to reducing anxiety, consider essential oils to be your partner in crime. One study found people who received a massage with lavender oil had less anxiety and felt more upbeat than those who had a massage sans lavender. Another found those who breathed vanilla-scented air had 63 percent less anxiety than those who didn’t.
If there’s something coming up that’s giving you the jitters – giving a presentation at work, visiting the in-laws, shaving your legs – take some time and visualize yourself handling the situation like a boss. Do your best to ignore how you currently feel and focus on how you want to feel. Visualization has been known to relieve stress. It’s kind of like getting your mental ducks in a row.
5. Warm up your hands
When anxiety strikes, your nervous system directs blood flow to your larger muscles, thanks to the “fight or flight” response, which often results in cold hands. When you warm up your hands, it signals your nervous system that it’s “safe” to calm down.
6. Don’t wait to exhale
Yes, deep breathing calms you, but the most important part of the equation is your exhale. When you lengthen your exhale, you trigger your parasympathetic nervous system and slow your heart rate. The next time you book a deep breathing sesh with yourself, focus on making your exhalations twice as long as your inhalations.
7. Hang out with your BFFs
People with a ton of social support react less negatively to stress compared to the loners in the house (bashfully raises hand). Researchers say this is because socializing stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, which helps your bod relieve stress.
8. Drop the F-bomb
According to a 2012 study, dropping the F-bomb serves as a “mechanism for stress relief.” (If this is the case, I’m the healthiest person in the world.) Use discretion, obvi. You don’t want to offend anyone, you just want to throw yourself a bone.
9. Wear a rubber band on your wrist
Train yourself to chill out through conditioning: Every time you feel your anxiety flaring up for a completely irrational reason (I like to call this reason “consciousness”), lightly snap the rubber band. The idea is you’ll start to associate feelings of stress with pain, and you’ll subconsciously start avoiding that feeling. Okay, it sounds like a stretch (*snorts), but when it comes to the desire to relieve stress, what could it hurt? (HA, I kill me.)
What are your fave quick and dirty tips to relieve stress?
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Image: Wikimedia Commons