Top 7: Easy stress busters

Make time for yourself to relieve the festive tension.

By Donna Fleming

1) Watch a funny movie

When you laugh it reduces the amount of stress hormones, including cortisol, that your body releases and increases endorphins – the feel-good hormone. You can sense the anxiety draining out of your body as you have a giggle.

2) Hang out with Animals

Dogs and cats are great for stress. Research shows that spending time with a pet, especially one you can stroke and play with, decreases stress levels. Having a pet can also lower blood pressure.

3) Treat yourself to a massage

Massage may lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and help your muscles to relax. Stress can cause a vicious circle of symptoms – you get stressed so you tense your muscles, which then become achy and sore, and the pain can stress you out. Massage can break this cycle.

4) Have a good sob

When all the pressure heaped upon you in the weeks before Christmas makes you want to cry, let the tears flow. Crying is a cleansing experience – it releases built-up tension, especially in the chest, helps your body to deliver oxygen to your brain and prompts the release of chemicals which will encourage relaxation.

5) Smooth on coconut

When you’re stressed the scent of coconut may curb your natural “fight or flight” response, slowing your heart rate. In one trial, people who had completed a challenging task likely to cause stress saw their blood pressure recover more quickly when they breathed in coconut fragrance.

6) Shake it off

Any exercise is great for keeping stress at bay because it encourages the release of endorphins, but dancing is especially good because music can increase your sense of wellbeing.

7) Sniff lavender

Lavender is often used in aromatherapy to induce relaxation and studies have shown inhaling its fragrance can lower anxiety levels. Some other relaxing scents include chamomile and ylang ylang.

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