Being “stressed” seems to be as trendy as being “on a diet.” Everyone’s doing it, throwing the terms around as if it’s an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn’t addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it naturally. No drugs, no chemicals, just good natural cures. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!
1. Reduce Stress with Touching, Kissing, Hugging, and Sex
Touching, kissing, and hugging (or any other affectionate activities) are eco activities that stimulate the brain’s release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.
2. Reduce Stress by Swearing it Off!
Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That’s according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.
3. Reduce Stress by Eating Garlic
The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head and helps manage stress.
4. Reduce Stress by Eating Chocolate
Balance isn’t just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff. And of course opt for organic chocolate.
5. Reduce Stress by Rubbing your Hoku
Your “hoku” is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It’s also an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%—that’s according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
6. Reduce Stress by Watching YouTube
Laughter is a proven way to ease stress. Even the mere anticipation of something funny has the ability to calm us down thanks to the release of stress hormones like dopac, cortisol and epinephrine. More than easing angst, short funny film clips have been proven to increase blood flow to the heart according to scientists at the University of Maryland.
7. Reduce Stress by Gardening
Research has shown that having plants and flowers in your presence can elicit a positive mood and reduce stress levels. Connecting with the Earth by sticking your hands in the dirt and tending to the plants yourself even further imbue you with an energy of calm. If you don’t have a garden yet, start with our How to Go Green Guide to Gardening.
8. Reduce Stress by Embracing Clutter
For years, neat-freak moms have been insisting on orderly bedrooms for the sake of productivity, sanity, and just seemingly to pester. Not anymore! Eric Abrahamson (a Columbia School of Business Professor) and David H. Freedman (a journalist) have found that moderate messes can actually enrich creativity and minimize anxiety.