Health Hack: Sing Your Stress Away

“Many of my patients say music is one of the most useful stress-coping strategies,” says Dr Muhammad Nasim, a GP at Northwood Medical Centre, Birmingham, who regularly sees patients suffering from stress. “[Listening to music and singing] reduces stress hormone levels in the blood.” Dr Mark Winwood, a London psychologist, also tells me that music fires “positive brain neurotransmitters”, which basically means you get more positive images in your head, which helps you relax.”

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Stress Hack: Mess Leads to Stress

Mess leads to stress, which leads to fatigue. “It takes energy to process the visual information in a cluttered space, and that drains our cognitive resources . . . Disorder is a type of chaos, which switches on our fight-or-flight response to a small degree. “It breeds anxiety, and anxiety is costly in terms of energy. Begin [organizing] with items visible on the desk, table, bed, or floor,” she says. “This will encourage feelings of mastery. When we feel a sense of control, it’s energizing.” Then move on to more complex tasks like revamping closet space or finally cleaning out the garage.

Source: Evelyn Spence in Prevention Magazine (Jun2018, Vol. 70 Issue 6, p78-83. 6p)

Stress Hack: Does It Really Matter?

Quick Tips For Handling Stress

  • If you allow others to make you stressed, you are allowing them to control you.
  • Do you really want others pulling your strings?
  • Look at stress as a test.
  • Do you want to fail that test by getting stressed out.
  • The only person responsible for your stress is you.
  • Stress is energy. Are you going to use this energy for something productive or destructive?
  • Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? Next Month?

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Stress Hack: It’s Time for LOL

A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.

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Stress Hack: Chew Gum

For a super easy and quick stress reliever, try chewing gum. One study showed that people who chewed gum had a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress . One possible explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain. Additionally, one recent study found that stress relief was greatest when people chewed more strongly.

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Stress Hack: Light a Candle

Burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. Some scents are especially soothing. Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep. Here are some of the most calming scents:

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Vetiver
  • Bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • Neroli
  • Frankincense
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang ylang
  • Orange or orange blossom
  • Geranium

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Stress Hack: Focus on the Now

Returning your focus to the present will help you accept and let go of what you cannot control. It will also help you realize that you can’t change the past, and that the future hasn’t happened yet, so it’s a waste of time to keep thinking about them. (This doesn’t mean that you are unaware of what happened in the past or what is about to happen in the future.) Try taking a deep breath and asking yourself how you are feeling right now.

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Stress Hack: Use a Mantra

A mantra is just a simple phrase or word that you repeat to calm your mind. Research has shown that repeating a mantra reduces activity in the part of your brain that is responsible for self-judgment and reflection. This is the part of the brain that spends so much time rehashing the past and worrying about the future. You can use any word, sound, or saying you want. You could try something like, “Om,” “Life is good,” or “Everything is OK.” Repeat your phrase over and over, focusing your thoughts only on your mantra. If your mind wanders, return to your mantra. You can practice this almost anytime, even going around the supermarket or on your commute home from work.

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Sleep Hack: Spinach Might Help You Sleep

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of magnesium. In addition to being a muscle relaxer, research has also found that too little magnesium in your diet can make it hard to stay asleep. Fill up on spinach and other foods rich in magnesium like avocado, quinoa, bananas, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. 

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