Friday, April 9, 2010

6 Unique Stress Relief Tips

We all get rid of our stress in different ways. Usually stress tips include deep breathing or exercising, but how about some stress tips that you rarely or never hear. Ladies Home Journal has compiled some different stress relief tips for us to try.

6 Top Stress Cures You Haven't Already Heard

Surprise #1: Watch a Scary Movie (Popcorn Optional)

If you are anxious or stressed, here's a nifty way to replicate this remedy, but at a remove: Watch a scary movie. "These films allow you to tackle upsetting issues from the safe distance of allegory," says Constance Pittman Lindner, a writer and health researcher in Boston. "This permits a safe confrontation of real fears disguised in conquerable, metaphorical form.

Even if the movie ends disastrously for the characters in it, you're always aware that you will leave the theater alive and well. So this emotional journey can be a useful way to discharge stress."

Surprise #2: Become a Queen of Denial

If the stressor is something over which you have no control, simply pull a Scarlett O'Hara and tell yourself, "I'll think about it tomorrow."

No one, it should go without saying, is advising you to ignore serious issues that demand immediate action (a breast lump, for example, or a depressed teenager). But sometimes denial can give you a little breathing room. "Temporarily denying or avoiding unpleasant facts won't change a situation," observes J. Michael Bostwick, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, "but it can prevent you from being overwhelmed and give you time to get acclimated." The idea behind this strategy is to suppress whatever is stressing you out until you're able to deal with it in a more appropriate manner. Moreover, every once in a while, if you ignore it, it actually will go away.

Surprise #3: Go to Extremes

In a recent study at the University of Missouri-Columbia, moderate-intensity exercise was shown to have that effect, but high-intensity workouts packed a much bigger and better antistress wallop. The sharpest decline was among the women in the high-intensity group. Additionally, that group's anxiety continued to drop significantly at 30-, 60- and 90-minute marks, while the other groups' levels remained stable.

There are several possible explanations for this result. Intense aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, and these two vital organs (especially the heart) bear the brunt of the body's physiological stress response. It follows, then, that the more you exercise, the better these organs will respond under stress within reason, says Richard Cox, PhD, one of the study's authors. Another hypothesis is that high-intensity exercise requires all of your concentration, limiting your ability to ponder weightier matters, the way you can when you go for a bike ride or take a brisk walk. Finally, there is the belief that high-intensity exercise ups the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones. The harder you exercise, the bigger the release.

Surprise #4: Do Sweat the Small Stuff

When you're hit with a major stressor -- a bad medical diagnosis, job loss, or a monster project at work -- looking at the big picture can immobilize you. "The entirety of a situation can be overwhelming, which may mean you won't be able to take the necessary steps to strategize your way out of it," says Dr. Bostwick. "But if you break the situation down into component parts, addressing what you can do immediately and temporarily neglecting the rest, then you can get a handle on the stress."

Surprise #5: Promise Yourself a Laugh

Laughter is a known stress reliever, but it turns out that anticipating a laugh gets the job done, too.

So pencil in a screening of Blazing Saddles, make a date with a funny friend, or take the latest David Sedaris book to work for lunchtime reading. Even if any or all of them end up being canceled, you'll have reaped some stress relief.

Surprise #6: Rock On

Listen to whatever lights your fire. And blast away as loud as you like. The stress relief lies not in the nature of the music itself but in the fact that you've chosen it.

Two factors are most likely at work here. First, the subjects made their own choices, and second, they were hearing music that was pleasing and familiar to them. "Self-selected music may have made them feel better able to perform the stressful task because of the music's past association with positive performance," says Dr. Allen. So if the Stones are what bring you satisfaction, play them long and loud to get those stress levels down.


Tracy said...

Horror is my favorite movie genre, just finished doing #1! Thanks for entering my giveaway on Ascending Butterfly -