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12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

If you clicked on this article you probably feel stressed right now. There are many things that make us feel anxious – an awkward conversation with the boss, family issues or a fight with your partner.The good news is that you can instantly fight back the “S Word” with these simple tips to destress. Take a deep breath. Ready? Now relax!

1. Go for a walk

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    Yes, it’s as simple as that. Ten minutes outside will help you clear your mind and boost endorphins – a powerful antidote to stress hormones. Have a stroll in a park, go out to the garden and plan an escape into the wood on the weekends. Nature is one of the most powerful (and free!) stress-relievers out there as a recent study proved. If you cannot step outside right now, find a window with a view on something leafy and green and take your “zen” moment. Solely visual encounters with nature, as well, have actionable positive influences on your psychological and physiological states.

    2. Buy a plant

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      Did you know that a small pot on your desk can actually help you to calm down? A research conducted by Washington State University proved that being around plants drastically reduces anxiety and drops blood pressure. For an easier breathe, get a snake plant for your office. It absorbs carbon dioxide during the day and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do it vice versa), so that your morning begins with clean-air boost to kick-start your productivity. Or a spider plant – still one of the most effective air-purifying plants according the NASA study in late 80s. It consumes and transforms harmful pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and more, thus making us healthier and more content.

      3. Do a quick breathing exercise

      One of the oldest techniques discovered nearly 3000 years from Ayurveda practices is gaining control of your “pranayama” – the life force or simply, your breath. Deep breathing stimulates parasympathetic reactions in our body, which helps us to relieve the tension and calm down. Shallow quick breathing does not allow our body to get enough oxygen and is considered as a “fight or flight” reaction by our brains, thus provoking stress. According to Herbert Benson, a researcher from Harvard, short periods of meditation, using breathing as a focus, can significantly alter the body’s stress response and even change the expression of some genes. Here are a few simple techniques to try:

      • Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”: deeply inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. All through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Keep the focus on the same thought while doing the exercise.
      • Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”: start with a long, slow inhale, followed by a rapid, powerful exhale coming from the lower belly. Once you feel more comfortable with the contraction, speed up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.

      4. Chew a gum

      Feeling overwhelmed with ongoing tasks? Chew a gum to stay focused and reduce your anxiety. According to Andrew Scholey from Swinburne University in Melbourne, using a chewing gum while balancing numerous tasks improves overall attentiveness and effectiveness. During the research gum-chewers performed 67% better on multi-tasks and showed a reduction in anxiety by 17% during mild stress and 10% in moderate stress situations compared to non-chewers.

      5. Squeeze out a smile

      Even a phony fake smile will reduce your stress levels according to the “facial feedback” theory of emotion. Our brains constantly analyze changes in our body from posture and muscle pressure to facial expression, thus judging how you actually feel right now.  In simple words if you act like a happy person, you’ll start feeling like one! Is there nothing to cheer you up right now? Place a pencil vertically between your teeth to mimic a genuine smile. As another research proved, participants who were holding a pencil vertically in their mouth felt less stressed when solving a mental challenge and reported to endure less pain while going through the pain induction.

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      6. Eat a banana, potato or an avocado

      Bananas

        All of them contain a lot of potassium – a property known to reduce blood pressure jumping sky high as you feel stressed. The also help your body to gain the necessary energy for recovery and even protect you from negative stress-related consequences like strokes and heart attacks.

        7. Listen to some music

        Music is known to have a lot of healing powers. It can reduce both the distress of chronic and postoperative pains; relieve depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people; reduce burnouts and improve the mood among pressured nursing students. It even makes patients less anxious and stressed before surgery. Classical music has a particularly soothing effect – it calms down the heart rate, cuts back the amount of stress hormones and reduces blood pressure. However, it could be any of your favorite songs to flood your brain with “the happiness hormone” – dopamine.

        8. Do progressive muscle relaxation exercises

        Researches have found that a series of simple progressive muscle relaxation exercises once a week significantly reduces blood pulse, pressure and overall anxiety even for people suffering clinical depression or other psychological disorders. Sit down, close your eyes and tighten your foot muscles (starting from toes) as much as you can. Than relax. Gradually make you way up tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve reached your forehead. The exercises works miracles when done with a soothing tune in your headphones.

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        9. Treat yourself with something sweet

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          Eat a candy or a piece of cookie (one piece!) as it is the fastest aid to reduce both psychological and physical stress. Sugar can decrease the production of glucocorticoid – a stress-related hormone linked to decreased immune response and obesity. And yes, that must be something really syrupy, not a low-calorie sugar-substantive variety.

          10. Create Cushions in Your Calendar

          Tight schedules and constant multi-tasking are one of the most common contributors to stress nowadays. When you have a lot of things to cross of your to-do list, you find yourself in a constant hurry, juggling a bunch of things at a time and not being properly focused on any of them. By creating cushions in your calendar you avoid stressful situations in the first place. Always leave enough time from you to reach from point A to point B despite any possible obstacles you may face. If you have an important meeting scheduled for 10 am, go out of home 30 min earlier than your usual time, so you could spend your commuting time calmly revising your notes, instead of rushing and stressing out due to heavy traffic.

          11. Use the Naam yoga hand trick

          Once you feel anxiety rising up, say during difficult negotiations, press a point between your second and third knuckles, just at the spot where your finger and hand meet. It will instantly make you feel calmer! Also, try moving your thumb down the middle finger toward your palm till you feel a soft, slightly indented spot. It should be on the inside of your finger of your palm. Applying medium pressure here will loosen the area around the heart and make your anxiety go away notes Sharon Melnick, author of the “Success Under Stress” program.

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          12. Stop Should-ing Yourself

          After all, we are our own worst enemies in terms of stress. How many times have you told yourself that you should go to that date (but you knew it’s going to be pathetic!), you should meet you old friend (though you had hardly anything in common as you grew up) or that you should go through with the wedding as all the invitation have been sent and tons of money spent? Those “should”s crush your soul and make you feel anxious about making life decisions. As Lissa Rankin, M.D states: “If you ignore the soul’s guidance, the soul may guide you through painful interventions, like loss or illness.” Stay true to yourself and listen to your heart more often! It does no harm to you.

          Featured photo credit: Young girl spreading hands with joy and inspiration facing the sun,sun greeting,freedom concept,bird flying above sign of freedom and liberty via shutterstock.com

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          Elena Prokopets

          Freelance Writer

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          Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

          Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

          There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

          “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

          Primal Therapy

          Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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          How it Started

          “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

          It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

          “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

          Delving deeper

          Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

          Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

          Some Methods To Practice Screaming

          If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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          • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
          • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
          • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
          • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

          After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

          Scream Sing

          Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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          • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
          • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
          • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
          • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
          • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
          • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
          • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

          If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

          Scream into a pillow

          Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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          Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

          Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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