You see it written on mugs and T-shirts. People say it all the time. When the going gets tough, and your stress is at an all-time high, someone is likely to say it to you – “relax” or “keep calm and carry on”. If only it were so easy!
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where you can spot “relax” among other words.
Turns out, there are several scientifically tried and tested methods that you can incorporate into your life to actually bring down your stress level. And many of these techniques work instantly, enveloping your mind in a blanket of calm and soothing your nerves. Here are three worth remembering the next time you need to de-stress:
1. Take deep breaths
It sounds suspiciously simple, and it is, but it’s also extremely effective. The American Institute of Stress calls deep breathing a “super stress buster”. Anxiety and stress can cause you to take shorter breaths. By purposefully taking a series of deeper ones, you can increase oxygen supply to your brain, consequently stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing your heart rate, increasing intestinal activity and relaxing stomach muscles. Just a few deep breaths sets of a series of actions in your body that will leave you feeling incredibly calmer.
2. Take a walk
Like other physical activities, walking boosts the production of endorphins in your body, which stimulates relaxation and elevates mood. Walking also enhances cognitive skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. According to a February 2011 study in the US-based journal Environmental Science and Technology, walking in green areas like parks, where you are surrounded by Nature, can be even more effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
3. Get artistic
There’s a reason why there are so many adult colouring books out there. According to the US-based Cleveland Clinic website, adult colouring can be a calming process – it takes attention away from yourself, allows your brain to relax and not be swarmed with anxious thoughts, and acts as an escape. Similarly, you can paint, draw, or throw a pot. The US-based Mayo Clinic also recognises art therapy as an effective relaxation technique and stress-relief tactic.
There are a number of other science-backed strategies to keep calm, too, like meditation, spending time with pets, hot showers, and even daydreaming for 15 minutes a day.