Scientifically Proven Ways to De-stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s work-related or family-related, everyone experiences stress at some point.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s work related or family related, everyone experiences stress at some point. Trying to relax is much easier said than done, but researchers have scientifically proven several methods to de-stress. Here are eight of the best.

1. Eating foods rich in Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to support brain function, growth, and development, but they also reduce inflammation. At Ohio State University, a group of medical students were given omega-3 supplements while another group was given a placebo. During each visit, each student’s blood was tested for levels of cytokines—compounds that promote inflammation, and whose production is triggered by psychological stress. The study revealed that the students given the supplements demonstrated a 20% greater reduction in anxiety than the students given the placebo. To back up this observation, blood tests showed that those who took the omega-3 pills produced 14% less cytokines. While this study suggests promising benefits of omega-3’s on stress, researchers recommend increasing consumption of omega-3’s through diet rather than pills.

2. Turning off the smartphone

Phones have revolutionized the world in many beneficial ways, but growing dependence on them has led to increased stress levels. Richard Balding, a psychologist from the University of Worcester, conducted a study on students, retail workers, and public sector employees using psychometric tests. He and his team discovered that increasing use of smartphones for personal reasons (especially for social media) was associated with stress level increases. The pressure of staying in touch may induce stress, so consider unplugging from the digital world for even a few minutes.

3. Finding a distraction

Relieve yourself from stress by escaping burdens that put pressure on you. As stress builds, your focus narrows and you become fixated with the source of stress. A distraction will break the process of attentional narrowing and provide a temporary relief from stress. Distractions come in many forms, from simple chores to watching television and immersing yourself in hobbies like painting, cooking, even volunteering.

4. Leaning on friends

While friends are there to share good moments, never forget that they can also provide emotional support. Open up and express your negative feelings; talking to a friend gets your worries off your chest, and good friends will help to carry your burden. Your friend may even provide a new perspective on a situation and help you solve a conflict.

5. Listen to music

Music is a means of self-expression, and certain songs can remind you that even a famous artist understands the struggles you’re facing. The University of Nevada reports that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat, causing alpha brainwaves, which are present when you’re conscious and relaxed. Stanford University researchers have also compared listening to music to meditating in terms of its influence on changing brain function. Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are prime examples of genres that effectively relax the mind.

6. Breathe

The American Institute of Stress supports breathing as an effective means of inducing the “relaxation response” (a term coined by its Founding Trustee, Dr. Herbert Benson). This response is a physical state of deep rest that includes physiological changes—such as slower metabolism and heartbeat—that change your physical and emotional reactions to stress. Deep breathing promotes relaxation due to the increased oxygen flow to the brain, which stimulates the parasympathetic nerves and induces calmness. The AIS recommends 20-30 minutes of deep breathing daily to decrease stress.

7. Yoga

Yoga incorporates the aforementioned methods of finding a distraction and breathing with meditation and exercise. This practice encourages breath regulation and relieves tension from muscles, introducing fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the entire body. These changes explain the feeling of invigoration that many experience after a few yoga poses. With practice, meditation is also an effective method of consciously quieting the mind and finding inner peace when you feel overwhelmed.

8. Find comfort in a creature

Many schools and universities have begun hosting small petting zoos for their students during stressful exam periods. The American Veterinary Medical Association describes the human-animal bond as a “mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship…that is influenced by behaviors” (such as emotional, psychological, and physical interactions “that are essential to the health and well-being of both”). Touching an animal has the power to release endorphins, resulting in lower blood pressure and triggering a positive feeling in the body. Dogs in particular have evolved to become acutely sensitive to human behavior and emotions, making them valuable therapy animals.


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