Time and time again, experts have repeated that the key to relieving stress and anxiety is getting enough rest, eating well, and doing exercise. And while no one is contesting these tested and proven methods, there are also other options—and science-backed at that—that can also help you cope with the stress and anxiety you feel from time to time.
The next time you're feeling particularly rattled and frustrated, you may want to consider these unique options:
There's a reason why people always say that laughter is the best medicine. A good laugh, whether it's from a show, or a friend's joke, has great short-term effects. Even better, laughter may also be good for you over the long term. When you laugh, you're simultaneously enhancing the intake of oxygen-rich air, which then stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and ramps up the endorphins released by your brain. It also cools down your stress response, especially if you laugh particularly hard, as it decreases your heart rate and blood pressure.
It goes without saying that laughter has the capacity to shift your focus away from the stress and negative emotions you're currently feeling, making it infinitely better than other distractions. The takeaway? Find a way to laugh, even in mundane situations, so you can take the edge off. You can get it from comedy shows and movies, friends and family, or even a group activity like Laughter Yoga – a practice where people laugh as a group. It's mostly forced at first, but the laughter will eventually turn into spontaneous ones.
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Sex and Masturbation
Either by yourself or with someone you ideally have a healthy relationship with, studies have shown that sex can be a big stress reliever. Research curated by Very Well Mind found that sexual activity relieves stress by raising endorphins and other hormones that boost the mood. Additionally, it was found that sex prevents increases in blood pressure during stressful events. While the effect was more pronounced in people who had sex with penetration, it doesn't mean that nonpenetrative sex and masturbation can't help you stay calm.
In fact, given that masturbation is also a sensory experience that helps you focus and release bodily tension, achieving orgasm by yourself relieves stress just as well. Pretty Me's guide to the best bullet vibrators points out that masturbation (regardless of whether or not you use a toy) can help enhance your mood. Plus, since sex or masturbation temporarily takes your mind off your worries for a considerable amount of time, it's an excellent stress management option.
Yup, you read that right. Playing video games is another effective stress relief method. From the outside looking in, it seems that one cannot find a semblance of mindfulness or achieve a stress-free state when playing video games, but as previously mentioned by Smriti Jindal, gaming contributes to overcoming stress, depression, and even hanger. When researchers examined the relationships among work-related fatigue, coping mechanisms, and recovery experiences, people who associated gameplay with recovery were found to have a satisfied and happy state of mind during gameplay.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology also posits that video games similarly feature narratives, mechanics, music, player motivations, and a slew of other elements that have unique influences on physiological systems and emotional states. It's understandable how non-gamers can view the activity as something stress-inducing, but the very act of mastering challenges gives one control over their environment – a crucial factor in recovering from stress.
You know those people you see on Instagram who can't stop buying new plants? They're not just doing it because it's trendy. Tending to plants has some health benefits, including reducing stress. RealSimple's list of stress-relieving items notes that "forest bathing," or the act of being one with nature, can result in lower blood pressure, stress reduction, and enhancement of concentration and memory. Adding greenery to your space not only purifies the air in your home but because it mimics being directly in nature, it also offers similar benefits as actually being outdoors.
According to Japanese researchers, spending at least half an hour in the woods can lower cortisol levels or the so-called stress hormones released by the adrenal glands. When the levels are elevated in one's body, it can increase the risk of depression, mental illness, weight gain, heart disease, and impaired immune function. And so just by situating yourself around plants (and caring for them, too, of course) can not just offer stress relief, but also increase your overall well-being, too.
We all deal with stress in different ways, but if you ever find yourself unable to get relief from your usual mechanisms, it's always worth trying unconventional options.
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