By Alessia Andersen, year 9
Amidst the chaos of assignments and assessments, it is very hard to not be stressed. Thus, I have come up with the top 17 ways to distress to keep you more relaxed and calm! Please look below!
1. Breathing- Slow, deep breathing for only a few minutes can dramatically decrease tension.
2. Brushing- Stroking your skin with a dry brush stimulates nerve endings, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and triggers a more relaxed state.
3. Chewing- Chewing gum can seem like a nervous habit, but actually it can relax you. A 2008 study at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, found that chewing reduces the stress hormone cortisol in saliva by 16% during mild stress and nearly 12% during moderate stress.
4. Counting- Counting numbers gives your mind something neutral to focus on. This diversion can often get you on a more serene track.
5. Discarding- Clutter is more common in the 21st century than ever before, and being buried in stuff increases our level of stress hormones. It can overload our senses and even impair our creativity. Start gaining the upper hand by cleaning your room, making your bed, or other chores around the house.
6. Eating- Eating a piece of chocolate; it stimulates the brain to release beta endorphins, the body’s own feel-good drug, and also reduces other stress-related biochemical activity. A banana is a good choice, too; it’s loaded with potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
7. Floating- Imagine yourself floating in air, drifting to the ground like a falling leaf. It’s hard to feel pressured when nothing’s pressing against you and you’re moving in slow motion. Or, go have a nice warm bath to experience the real thing.
8. Ironing-Focusing on the repetitive back-and-forth motion across the ironing board makes this activity akin to meditation.
9. Listening- Listen to a soothing tune. Classical music in particular can lower blood pressure, slow down your pulse, and reduce stress hormones. It also increases dopamine, a brain chemical that helps us feel pleasure.
10. Massaging- Find the part of your body that feels tight and knead it a bit with one or both hands. Then top it off with a full body shake. It’s like waking up from a refreshing nap.
11. Organizing- Chaos creates stress that we may not even be aware of. Straightening things up to re-establish order can reduce your stress load (not to mention help you find things you’ve been searching for!).
12. Petting- Pet the first cat or dog you can get your hands on. According to an article in Social Work Today, merely stroking a cat can trigger release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps reduce cortisol levels.
13. Posing- Pose in a cat-cow position, a yoga pose known to promote a sense of relaxation. It’s also a good prep for more vigorous exercise.
14. Singing- Endorphins and oxytocin, both associated with feeling pleasure and relieving stress and anxiety, are released when we sing. Singing also stimulates the vagus nerve, an important part of the parasympathetic nervous system that helps control our relaxation response.
15. Sipping- Sip a cup of hot tea. In a British study, people who drank black tea reduced their stress levels faster than those who drank a tea substitute. A number of herbal infusions have also been shown to have stress-reducing benefits, among them chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, and green tea.
16. Stretching-Sometimes we forget that any stretching is better than none, and we don’t take the time to do it unless we’re ready to do a full-body routine. In just a few minutes, you can easily determine which area of your body seems tightest and stretch it out.
17. Strolling-If you’re in a stressful state of mind because of work or other worries, change the scene. Step outside and take a lap around your house or the block. Check out the sights during your mini-walkabout. If you have a little more time, try a walking meditation; there are even apps to lead you through it.