Stress affects us all in different ways. Whether it’s related to relationships, finances or professional issues, chances are stress brings about a negative response more often than not. Stress takes its toll both physically and emotionally, but the good news is that there are ways to relieve stress — and not always in the manner you may expect. Here, 10 surprising stress relievers that should help make life a little easier.
1. Cuddle More
Not only does it feel wonderful to cuddle the one you love, but it also helps ease stress. That’s because the simple act of cuddling releases oxytocin, a natural hormone that eases stress and even lowers blood pressure. Combined with the feelings of warmth and safety that only cuddling can provide, there’s no reason not to make this activity a vital part of your day.
2. Eat Pasta
You’re probably thinking about the carb factor, but pasta contains serotonin, which is associated with happiness and improved moods. Low serotonin content can be caused by stress or poor diet, so it’s important to boost it however you can. Of course, that doesn’t give you automatic carte blanche to eat pasta three times a day (although if it makes you happier…). Remember that everything in moderation is key.
Ease your angst by indulging in one of your favorite childhood pastimes: Coloring. Something of a trend now, coloring books for adults.
are popping up everywhere and with good reason. Coloring is known for its meditative effect, which can in turn relax the body and relieve stress. Nab yourself a coloring book (or just hop online and print out a few coloring pages) and a box of colored pencils and get to work. Your mind will thank you.
4. Go Tech-Free
Most of us are married to our laptops and cell phones, but we probably don’t realize what an enormous difference these items have on our stress levels. The high-tech life is fabulous, of course, but don’t become such a slave to technology that you lose sight of the really important things in life. With that in mind, give it a rest; put your phone away as soon as you get home, turn the laptop off in the bedroom and enjoy the silence. You’ll find your stress levels melt away.
Cleaning can be a cause for stress, but it can also help diminish it. Intensive cleaning, in particular, has some sort of therapeutic effect, mainly because it’s a distraction. Use your next stressed-out moment as an opportunity to take it all out on mildewy shower tiles or a floor that desperately needs some attention.
6. Get Crafty
You don’t have to knit beautiful sweaters or create gorgeous jewelry to reap the benefits of crafting. Merely learning how to create can be a stress buster in itself. Wielding the small tools and beads required to design a handmade necklace, for example, requires extreme focus. You’ll be so intent on designing something gorgeous that you’ll forget about what’s stressing you.
7. Plan Your Next Vacation
Sure, nothing replaces actually going to the beach and walking along the shore, but setting a plan in motion has extremely therapeutic effects. Simply having something to look forward to, be it a quick weekend getaway with your significant other or a much talked about family vacation finally coming to fruition, can be the motivating factor in working through your stress. Pick a hotel, check out flights and get yourself ready for your next big adventure.
8. Solve the Problem
This may seem obvious, but it’s often not. In fact, the reason stress manifests itself the way it does is because we allow it to linger, fester and do long-term damage. Think about what can be done to solve the problem and attack. You’ll feel stronger, bolder and more confident if you set a plan in motion. Whether it’s a travel plan gone awry (find a new flight!) or an argument with your love (start a conversation to get things moving in the right direction), there’s always some small change you can make to alleviate your stress — or at the very least, let you know that you did all you could to make the situation better.
9. Stop Being a Yes Person
We all love doing things. It’s so easy to say “yes” to every invite and every favor that gets asked of you. But the more you say yes, the less time you have for yourself and that alone can really be a factor in how much stress you hold on to. Instead of worrying about pleasing everyone all of the time, make sure you do everything you can for yourself. If your own needs aren’t met, you’ll ultimately be the loser while everyone around you soaks up your time and energy.
10. Spend Time with Kids or Pets
It goes without saying that laughter is the best medicine. Spend some time with a beloved pet or child and imagine that laughter multiplied tenfold — that’s often just what you need to pull yourself out of a funk and remember that life is really about those small, joyous moments. No pets or kids? Hang out with a friend who does have pets or kids or volunteer at an animal shelter or children’s hospital for daily exposure and a reminder of life’s beauty.