[Image source: Breaking Muscle]
Getting stressed is a part of life. It’s a common emotion in today’s day and age and a healthy one from an evolutionary standpoint. Getting highly stressed over an extended period of time however, can have dire consequences. Managing stress and reducing it efficiently and effective should be a concern for all.
I find it hard to say no. As a way to help me say no, I even wrote an article on it. You can read it here. Not being able to say no leads to stress, fatigue and burnout. It leads to taking on too much and then not having enough time in the day to fullfil all your commitments and desires. Having too much to do and not enough time to do it are two of the major contributors to chronic stress.
As the field of neuroscience grows, there’s no shortage of scientific information on how the brain works. There’s definitely still more that we don’t know than we do know, but we certainly know a lot. As our world changes, we must learn to adapt. Living a simple life, at one with nature, is the best way to reduce stress. But for many, that’s not possible or desired. Learning how to reduce stress efficiently and effectively is essential.
5 Scientifically Proven Stress Hacks
- Listen to Music
Research shows that listening to music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronise with the music and produce alpha brainwaves (8-14 hertz). Alpha brainwaves are characteristic of a relaxed but conscious state. The type of music depends on you; however, Indian stringed-instruments and drums, flutes, nature sounds, light jazz, and any form of easy listening music has been shown to be most beneficial.
- Make art
A 2016 study published in the journal, Art Therapy, found that 45 minutes of art making, even without any artistic experience or talent, significantly lowered cortisol levels. Cortisol is the main hormone associated with a stress response. Colouring-in books for adults have become very popular in the past few years in response to the research. When you’re feeling stressed, instead of pushing through, reach for the coloured pencils and start getting creative.
We’ve already talked about relaxing music reducing brain waves. A 2008 study published in Scientific American, hypothesised that music stimulates reward centres in the brain, while dance activates parts of the brain associated with motor and sensory circuits. The reduction in stress from dance is mainly anecdotal but one study, published in the American Journal of Dance Therapy, showed that the tango in particular, was linked with reductions in stress.
So, apparently retail therapy is a real thing. A study by the University of Michigan showed that shopping to relieve stress was very effective at giving people a sense of control and reduce sadness. Of course, shopping to hide from the truth can be problematic and shopping at certain times of the year can lead to even higher levels of stress. But if your ‘retail therapy’ is moderate, doesn’t affect your daily functioning, and doesn’t disrupt your financial responsibilities, go for it.
- Take a holiday
It’s well known that taking a holiday reduces stress. Now there’s research to back it up. A 2009 study from Canada reported that taking a vacation was such as strong way to reduce job stress that British researcher, Scott McCabe, stated that families who can’t afford a vacation, should be given some form of financial assistance. Researchers from Purdue University stated that the benefits of a vacation extend to family relationships. Spending time with family on holiday, promotes communication and strengthens bonds.
Stress is an everyday part of life. Chronic stress must be managed efficiently and effectively. There are many ways to reduce stress. Listening to music, making art, dancing, shopping and taking a holiday are five we’ve known to reduce stress for a long time. Thanks to neuroscience we now understand how and why.
How do you reduce stress?
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