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5 Surprising Ways To Lower Stress

Jul 6, 2020, 13:07 PM by Sara Trautman

First, a big shout out to everyone who has stayed on top of their yoga and meditation practice during these past several months.

Actively managing stress is so important in this uncertain climate. Whether you’ve been hitting the yoga mat regularly or not, you can always use some extra tools to bring a little more zen into your daily life!

These five surprising tips can be easily incorporated into your schedule starting today.

Sit Up Straight

Our minds, emotions and bodies continually interact in ways that we are unaware of. Research shows that good posture is a physical action that subconsciously triggers positive mental and emotional responses. Sitting in an upright posture, as opposed to slumping, improves your ability to cope and reduces the stress response. In addition, good seated posture has been linked to higher self-esteem, feeling more alert and an improvement in general mood.

One tactic to create a better posture habit is to set alarms as a reminder. When the alarm goes off, note your posture and correct it, if necessary.

Adding some core work to your exercise routine will help with your posture as well. As you strengthen the muscles that support your torso’s upright position, your posture will naturally improve.

female sitting next to window looking sad

Gaze Out Your Window

We’ve all experienced the refresh of a long walk in nature, but did you know that just looking at nature through your window for five minutes is enough to significantly lower your stress level? 

Of course, not everyone has a picturesque view from their cubicle. There’s an easy fix for that — research shows that viewing images of nature or listening to nature sounds have similar calming effects.   

sliced oranges on a cutting board

Eat An Orange

Who knew there was such a delicious way to fight stress? vitamin C, found in uncooked fruits and vegetables, lowers the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream. As the “fight or flight” hormone, cortisol is helpful in short-term emergency situations, but damaging if levels remain high over a sustained period of time.

Along with citrus fruits, you can get a dose of vitamin C from a variety of other fresh produce, like red and green bell peppers, leafy greens, cantaloupes, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

Wash Your Dishes

The thought of hand washing your dishes may feel like it’s raising your blood pressure, but it turns out that this mundane chore is actually perfect for reducing stress. There is a bit of a caveat -- it only works if you use it as a sensory experience. Those who reported the greatest benefit focused on things like the smell of the soap, the feel of the bubbles and the sound of the water sloshing -- a sudsy meditative state of sorts.

Fortunately for those of us who have had our fill of dish duty, similar results have been found for other repetitive activities like coloring and knitting.  

woman reading on the couch

Six Minutes Of Reading

Six minutes. That’s all it takes to see results. As little as six minutes of reading a book can make a huge impact on stress -- reducing it by over two-thirds. It seems that our minds can’t focus on stressors and get lost in a book at the same time. Of course, it’s best to choose reading material that isn’t inherently stressful to you. 

As a bonus, reading improves your sleep and reduces your risk of Alzheimer's.

As you experiment with these stress-reducing techniques, notice what works for you. Create your own personalized tool kit. Becoming aware of your stressors and actively addressing them is a helpful, healthy habit for life.

 

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