As summer’s glow of carefree evenings and outdoor adventures fades into fall, pressure builds to plan last minute vacations, reset a family routine, and wrap up back-to-school shopping.
From meditation to exercise, we have heaps of methods at our disposal for stress relief. Despite this, one in five Americans still experiences extreme stress. Your nervous system lights up, triggering the release of adrenaline and cortisol through your body. If these chemicals are persistently in your body, your odds for depression increase while your memory and learning skills fall.
When you’re not in the mood for deep breathing techniques or the weather is too bad to run, you have to get a little creative to ease the tension.
Turn on your favorite comedy special. Laughter earned its reputation as the best medicine for a reason. Giggling at your favorite comedy stimulates your organs, initiates and relieves your stress response, and relaxes your muscles.
Start a reading challenge. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as checking an item off of a list, especially when it involves escaping into a fictional world. Set your goal, read at your own pace, and share the books you’ve read with friends.
Do something nice for someone else. Make a gift, write a thoughtful note, or do a favor for someone without being asked. Altruism strengthens social bonds and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that makes it nearly impossible not to smile. The positive feeling part of your brain gets a boost from selfless acts, and it can be a welcome distraction from worries.
Find fractals. Fractals, recurring similar patterns that get increasingly smaller, are easy to find in nature- from flowers to snowflakes. Experiments show that fractal patterns can reduce people’s stress levels by up to 60 percent. Additionally, the search for fractals can take you into nature and art museums, which tend to have a quiet atmosphere conducive to de-stressing. Fill social media feeds with fractals you discover to provide a calming environment for your friends, and challenge them to find some natural beauty as well.
Change your password. By changing your password to a goal or idea that you want to achieve, you can prime yourself to change your behavior. For example, one man changed his password to Quit@smoking4ever and it helped him drop the habit. This can help you craft an environment that gradually removes big stressors from your life.
Hug someone. Humans are social beings, therefore our bodies reward us for physical touch with oxytocin, a formidable stress-fighting hormone. If you’re getting less than 8 hugs a day, it’s time to show the people in your life some more love.