Try these instant stress busters

When you’re feeling nervous, anxious or tense, these easy fixes will help calm your nervous system in seconds We’re a seriously stressed out group of people right now. More than half a million Brits suffer serious work-related stress – around 12.5 million working days are lost a year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety1 – while 37% of us are stressed out at least one day a week, with money, work and having too much to do being the most common causes.2

Why it’s so important to fight stress

Stress is your body’s natural response to a threat – whether that’s a tiger on the loose, or just a ridiculously long ‘to-do’ list. When you start to feel anxiety, your brain releases chemicals, including cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin, to prepare it for fight or flight. Blood rushes to the muscles, your senses become heightened and your immune system is primed in case of injury.3 This response was only ever supposed to last long enough to get us out of trouble – think high-speed dash away from that tiger. But constant stress means this response can be switched on all of the time. When this happens, the muscles being prepared for running start to tighten, leading to aches and pains; the immune system tires, making it less effective; and that increased heart rate and blood flow can trigger high blood pressure. See your GP if you’re concerned about your symptoms.4

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Scientifically proven instant stress busters

It’s clear that for good health, it’s essential to switch off your stress reaction. These quick fixes will help calm you down in an instant:

Do nothing

Visit the website http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/ and spend two minutes doing absolutely nothing but listening to the soothing sounds. Being still like this not only calms you down, but emerging evidence shows that doing nothing activates an important part of the brain called the default mode network, which actually helps us cope more effectively with stress.5

Breathe in some jasmine oil

A 2013 study, published in Journal of Health Research, reported that the brains of people smelling the scent of jasmine produced more calming beta-waves within seconds. They also immediately felt a greater sense of wellbeing.6

Hit the nearest green space

Nature has an instant calming effect on our body. In 2009, researchers at the University of Essex reported that people leaving a park experienced lower levels of tension, anger and depression than those entering. And while some of the study participants stayed in the park for just 15 minutes, and others wandered for up to two hours, the researchers didn’t find that staying longer gave a bigger boost.7

Sit up straight

Your posture can make a huge difference to how you think. In a 2015 study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, a group of 74 people felt more positive and higher self-esteem when asked to do something stressful while sitting upright – rather than slumped. The researchers suggest that we feel more resilient and powerful when we’re sitting upright, and this translates to positive changes in the body.8

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.

Sources

1. Health and Safety Executive. Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2017. Available from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pdf 2. Great Britain and Stress. How bad is it and why is it happening? Available from: https://www.forthwithlife.co.uk/blog/great-britain-and-stress/ 3.Medical News Today. Why stress happens and how to manage it. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php

4. As above

5. Clemens B, et al. Alerted default mode: functional connectivity changes in the aftermath of social stress. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5215522/

6. Sayowan W, et al. The Effects of Jasmine Oil Inhalation on Brain Wave Activities and Emotions. Available from:

https://tci-thaijo.org/index.php/jhealthres/article/view/85772 7. Barton J, Hine R and Pretty J. The health benefits of walking in greenspaces of high natural and heritage value. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/19438150903378425?needAccess=true 8.Nair S, et al. Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25222091
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