Today’s quote: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”– Chinese Proverb
Stopping to take a deep breath may be the standard recommendation to calm down when you’re feeling stressed.
There are many other potentially wonderful ways to beat stress though.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1: Fake a Smile
Forcing yourself to smile, even if it’s a fake grin, can make you feel better. Smiling produces physiological as well as psychological benefits, according to a study in Psychological Science in 2012.
“When you smile, you are engaging your face, and that is wired to the rest of your brain,” said Philip Muskin, MD, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “If your face is forcing your brain to think it’s happy, then you feel somewhat better.”
2: Read a Book
Losing yourself in a good book is a surprisingly simple and low-tech way to beat stress.
“Some people find great relief in reading, or bibliotherapy,”Muskin said. “It may be something inspirational, a piece of great literature, or it may be something just for fun. Just something that takes yourself out of yourself.” There’s science to back it up, too. People who used bibliotherapy improved their perceived stress, anxiety, and quality of life, according to a small study published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing in 2014.
3: Do Some Housework
Doing housework may not sound relaxing, but the repetitive motion that comes along with certain chores may help beat stress. For example, standing in front of an ironing board making the same motion over and over can be oddly relaxing for some people.
“My personal theory is those repetitive motions induce a trance-like state in people, and that is stress-relieving,” Muskin said. “If you zone out and get into the movement, you stop thinking about [what’s stressing you out].”
4: Pet a Dog
Spending time with a dog, even if it’s not your own, can beat stress. Animal-assisted therapy can provide powerful stress-busting benefits like easing anxiety and depression as well as lowering blood pressure, according to several studies.
Muskin said that dogs are especially good at de-stressing humans because, over thousands of years, they’ve been bred to be good companions by feeling and responding to human emotion. “They figure us out,” Muskin said, “and respond to our emotions.
Which of these stress relievers would you like to try this week?