Stress affects most of us at some point in life. In fact, a study which took place in 2018 found that 74% of people had felt so stressed, they’d been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
And, how we react to stress isn’t always ideal. In the same study, nearly half of people (46%) admitted that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress while just under a third (29%) said they started drinking or increased their drinking. Plus, 16% admitted that they’d started smoking or increased the amount they smoke. These unhealthy habits might offer temporary relief, but in the long term, they can lead to health problems, while also exacerbating the stress itself.
While various factors can lead to stress, from work through to relationships, dealing with it and stopping it from getting too serious, is very important.
Tidy the house
It might not be the first thing you choose to do when you’re feeling stressed, however, there is research to prove that when done mindfully, cleaning the house can keep stress levels down. The key word here is “mindfully,” which essentially means being present in the moment and the job in hand. The study found that when certain chores were done mindfully, participants actually had a 27% decrease in nervousness along with a 25% increase in “mental inspiration.”
Next time you’re washing the dishes, vacuuming the carpets or cleaning the bathroom, really focus on what you’re doing; the feel and the sounds.
Have a cuddle
Whether it be a big hug, holding hands or a kiss, studies have shown that the simple act of touch releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, and the love-hormone, oxytocin. Human connection is a huge stress-relief, and without it, we may feel emotionally distressed and anxious. If there was any proof of this, it comes from the recent lockdowns during the pandemic of COVID-19, which saw many people faced with days and months alone.
Take a wander in nature
Green space and nature has been proven to help lower cortisol levels far more than urban settings.
Plus, exercising in nature has been reported as being more “restorative” than indoor exercise. Opt for a 20-minute walk outside or even take your workout outside.
If you don’t have a garden or any green space nearby, you can also experience nature without heading outside by adding more plants to your home, and hanging nature-based pictures and photos on your walls.
Perfect your posture
It’s a small tweak, but sitting slumped over a keyboard all day can seriously impact our stress levels as well as our mood. In a study, those who sat upright reported higher self-esteem, an improved mood, and lower fear, compared to the participants who were slumped. Next time you find your shoulders slouching and back curved, take a moment to sit upright and reap the posture benefits!
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*Content written by Lucy Gornall