Try these six unusual ways to deal with stress if meditation and chamomile tea no longer work.
Ways to Deal with Stress
Carry gum with you.
Chewing gum alone, of course, will not solve the problem of chronic stress. However, it can slightly reduce its harmful effects. Three factors underlie this effect.
a) Chewing gum is distracting.
Studies show that the monotonous movement of the jaws shifts a person’s attention away from difficult thoughts or unpleasant situations, such as a stuffy traffic jam. In general, any food will do here, not just chewing gum. But chronic stress increases appetite, so if you “seize” it with real food all the time, you may encounter overeating. To avoid this, just allow the usual chewing gum without sugar.
b) It can lower cortisol levels.
Stress is caused by the hormone cortisol. It, in turn, increases the level of glucose in the body, which makes us more energetic. With chronic stress, the hormone continues to be produced in small quantities, even when everything is calm around, and with it glucose. Therefore, stress is one of the factors in the development of diabetes. Chewing gum can lower the level of cortisol in saliva, and therefore glucose. So, it will be easier for a person to achieve a sense of balance. True, in this case, it is desirable to choose a product without sugar.
c) Promotes the production of serotonin.
Prolonged rhythmic chewing increases the amount of 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) in the brain, a substance without which serotonin synthesis is impossible. And he, in turn, is just responsible for the feeling of happiness. Scientists do not yet fully understand this mechanism, but there are studies that reveal a direct connection between the processes.
Take up painting, singing or dancing.
Any art helps to fight stress, whether it’s drawing, music, dance, or theater. Art therapy is used by psychologists when working with people who have experienced severe emotional upheavals, such as a serious illness, loss of loved ones, natural disasters. It does not matter at what level the creative abilities of a person are.
For example, painting can lower your cortisol levels — all you need to do is devote 45 minutes a day to this activity. In addition, it distracts from sad thoughts. Listening to music is associated with the normalization of heart rate and blood pressure, which also reduces cortisol levels and improves sleep. And dancing, for example, increases the level of endorphins in the body. However, any physical activity is suitable for this.
If you don’t have time to enroll in a theater or dance studio yet, you can start with coloring books for adults – they can also reduce anxiety levels. And if there are none at hand, just look at the finished fractal paintings. According to some reports, this practice can help in the fight against stress.
Any format is suitable – desktop, quizzes, quests, video games. The secret of the method is not only in distraction but also in social interaction. Hanging out with friends and laughing usually improves your mood too. According to research, ordinary games on a console or smartphone work even better than special applications for relaxation and stress relief. This is because they teach new skills, help to relax, distract from problems, and return a sense of self-control.
The genre of the game doesn’t matter. For example, according to a study by the VK Play site, 55% of Russians choose playing as an anti-stress practice. Of these, 27% prefer strategy games, 21% prefer puzzle games, 20% prefer simulation games, and 10% each prefer sports and action games. In the same study, a third of Russians called video games an integral part of social life. 30% admitted that the activity makes them feel like part of a team, and 17% said that they can show leadership qualities in video games.
Distract with strong sensations.
Had a hard day at work or saw some bad news in your feed? You should not scroll for a long time in your head what happened; it is better to immediately switch to something else. Distraction is one of the main mechanisms in dealing with short-term stress.
To shift the focus of attention, try to experience some unusual and vivid sensation. For example, eat a slice of lemon, take a bite of a hot pepper, hold an ice cube in your hands, listen to loud music, or watch funny videos. This will divert the attention of the brain from internal problems to the senses.
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
During stress, muscles tense up. In case of danger, this mechanism protects people from injury and pain, but if the condition persists for a long time, it can lead to spasms. Targeted work with muscles will reduce the effect. And it’s not just fitness, yoga, and jogging in the morning. You can try the progressive muscle relaxation technique.
Its meaning is consistent tension and relaxation of muscles. Exercises are advised to be done in groups in the following order: forehead, jaws, neck and shoulders (they need to be pressed to the ears), arms (they are clenched into fists), buttocks, and thighs, feet, and calves. You can practice lying down or leaning back in a chair.
You can also move in the opposite direction – from the legs to the head. You need to strain a part of the body while inhaling for 15 seconds, and relax while exhaling, counting up to 30. The process should go smoothly and without sudden drops. And breathing is to remain even and calm, especially during jaw muscle tension: exercises do not imply its delay.
Practice controlled breathing.
This natural process not only oxygenates the body but also helps regulate emotions. For example, when frightened or surprised, a person reflexively takes a sharp breath, and, say, after a quarrel, a deep breath. In the first case, the body comes into a state of combat readiness, and in the second, it releases the accumulated stress. The same mechanism underlies two other natural responses of a person to a traumatic experience – screaming and crying. During them, we exhale more and after that, we feel a little better.
With chronic stress, breathing becomes rapid and shallow. This stimulates the production of cortisol. Therefore, breathing practices with special attention to exhalation can help transition the body from a mode of stressful activity to relaxation. To do this, you can use the following techniques.
a). Breathing equally. Inhale for a count of four, then pause and exhale for the same count. You need to breathe through your nose. Exercise is recommended to be done within five minutes. Over time, you can lengthen the intervals, for example, up to six; the main thing is that all three stages (inhale, pause, exhale) should be of equal duration.
b). Breathing 4-7-8. Inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Next, exhale to a count of eight through pursed lips, making a whistling sound. Repeat the exercise four times.
Both exercises should be performed in a relaxed position, lying down or leaning back in a chair. These methods can help in any stressful situations – for example, on an airplane if you are afraid of flying, or in an exam.
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