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Lately, it seems that no matter how you approach life, there is something to stress about, some deadline or overbearing news. It also seems you’ve tried every stress-management tool in the book, yet that anxiety keeps coming back. Here are a few, more interesting takes on stress management.
No, really, go and do it. Because you cannot be anxious and grateful at the same time, and there’s a science to back it up. Being grateful, and expressing gratitude, suppresses anxiety, which stems from your amygdala. This is the place from which all your fear responses, of which anxiety is one, come. It also engages the hypothalamus, and the two conflicting emotional states cannot exist simultaneously. When you feel gratitude for someone or something, however small, it sets you in motion to find all the things you are grateful for. At the same time, if you choose to feel anxious, your brain will look for confirmation bias and find all the things over which to feel anxious.
Get out into Nature
While taking that walk each day wasn’t a habit that you kept, you should revisit it. If you live in a city, make plans to get out on the weekend—all by yourself, with your spouse, or with your significant other. Here are three reasons why. Pine oil released by pine needles stimulates norepinephrine. Additionally, more vitamin D will help lift your mood for the same reason that people with vitamin D deficiency respond so well to sun lamps. It elevates your mood, and exercise will release mood enhancers as well. So, get out and walk a trail one afternoon a week. You have three powerful motivators to do so.
Have a Massage
No one should be going to a spa right now. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot have an at-home massage. Massage chairs and mats have vastly improved since they were first invented. These days, you can even customize what you’d like a chair to do and how much you’d like to spend upon it. It won’t be quite the same experience as a real masseur, but it does allow you to relax fully, after which, you can have a shower and sleep more soundly.
Do Something Constructive with Your Hands
Everyone remembers the bread baking craze during April of last year. While there are some who stuck with it, everyone who tried it benefited. This is because doing something with your hands is actually a great way to refocus your thoughts. If bread isn’t your thing, you might try taking up knitting or crocheting, sketching a picture, or anything repetitive in this vein. Experts note that once your hands become accustomed to the repetitive motion, they send a signal to your brain to relax. It makes you feel grounded. Plus, if you’re new at it, it’s okay to be slow and not that good at first. Do not focus on perfection. Focus on the motion.
Find Your Happy Place
Yes, you’ve heard that before and laughed at the simplicity. But this is something that anyone can do for free. It’s called the practice of mindfulness, and it actually does work. All you need to do is sit somewhere quiet. Be comfortable and control your breathing to a steady in-hold-out-hold pattern. Think of whatever while you’re doing this, but breathing is the key. Once you’ve got this managed, envision yourself somewhere happy. It could be a memory or just you feeling content. Hold that in your mind and don’t let it go, whatever intrusive thoughts might crop up.
Living can be stressful, but you need not let it rule your days and nights. There are bound to be many things that crop up and stress you out. However, there’s a point at which it isn’t functional to hold onto the anxiety of the event any longer. This is where the tips offered in this article will come in handy as you build your de-stressing routine.