November 2, 2012 at 8:16 am
Can you ever really have enough ways to tame tension? We didn’t think so. Get ready to fret less with these four serenity-savers that bring the poise.
By Sharon Boone
Send Your Troubles Packing
Often we’re freaked out because we’re ruminating over a mistake (spending too much on someone’s gift) or a slight (getting a vacuum as a present). Put the offense to rest by writing it down on paper and filing it away. The physical act of tucking away materials related to an unpleasant experience—in a box or envelope—improved negative feelings and created a sense of closure, according to researchers at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Or write down the things that feel out of control and put them in a “God Box” as reminder you don’t have to do it all yourself.
Power Down for 30 Minutes
Sleep is nature’s way of rebooting the system, whether you’re a fussy four-year-old or a frazzled forty-something. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who took afternoon siestas of 30 minutes or more at least three times a week had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who stayed awake all day. Experts think that the extra shut-eye reduces chronic stress. If sneaking in a half hour of sleep is impossible, a 20-minute catnap during your lunch break can boost alertness and motor performance. Both perks can help you power through the day’s challenges.
Play With Your Pooch
According to research at the State University of New York at Buffalo, spending time with a furry friend not only helps buffer you from life’s stressors, but also helps you bounce back from them faster. If you don’t have a pooch of your own, consider the adoption option or simply offer to walk a neighbor’s pup once a week.
Indulge A Craving
Don’t you love when science supports a vice? A 2009 study published in Journal of Proteome Research, eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate reduces levels of stress hormones. To get the most benefit for the fewest calories choose good quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa, like Lindt Lindor Truffles – 60% Dark (3 pieces are 210 calories) or Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight (4 pieces are 220 calories). Let each bite melt slowly on your tongue. Savor and repeat.
Keep calm and check out our December feature, “12 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas,” for even more tips!
What’s your favorite surefire way to beat stress? Tell us in the comments below.
Sharon Boone is a health writer and editor.