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How to stop stressing soon and stay happy

Your life – like everyone’s – is full of stress. You have tried yoga and meditation and listened to gurus who advocate various methods of “beating stress”. However, the truth is that you can never beat stress completely; and really would you want to? A life completely free of stress would mean a life without deadlines for projects you care about. It would also mean no more packed social calendars.

This article is not going to tell you to step back, say ‘no’ more often, not to overload yourself, or just stop worrying. Sometimes these steps are necessary, yes, but these are things you know how to do. What we are going to do here, instead, is to go over how to actually manage your stress so that it doesn’t take over your life or wreck your health.

Why should you care? The mind and body effects of too much stress are very real. Chronic stress has been linked to the developments of a multitude of health issues, from minor stomach upsets to depression, and cardio-vascular illnesses.

Even though we often talk about the word “stress” like it’s an external, uncontrollable force, it’s helpful to think about stress as more of a biological state. The true definition of stress is simply “the brain’s response to any demand”. Often this demand is some kind of change, whether that’s a negative one (like the death of a loved one) or a positive one (like starting a new job). But it can also be daily triggers (like your morning commute in traffic) or extreme stressors, like living through a violent or traumatic experience.

For every stressful demand, big or small, your brain initiates a complicated chain reaction. The short story is that it starts with a distress signal from your brain that tells your body to pump out hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones speed up your heart rate, open your lungs, and sharpen your senses when you’re stressed. It’s a response designed to help you deal with threats, and it’s supposed to calm down once the threat has passed. But if you can’t (or don’t) give your body the help it needs to relax, being on alert all the time can eventually start to take a toll on your body.

Because your life will always be demanding (and changing), the real keys to managing your stress depend on your ability to ride the stress wave, not stop it or slow it down. Thankfully, scientists take this seriously. Below are some of the easiest suggestions they have provided.

Try aromatherapy

Specifically, try aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of pleasant-smelling essential oils to improve well-being. Some studies have pointed to a link between sniffing a lemon or other citrus fruit and reduction in stress. It is perhaps why we practise burning of incense. You may try burning scented candles in lieu of diyas. Researchers have found that stress levels, blood pressure, and hormone levels were lower when participants in a study used aromatherapy.

Chew some gum

Yep, taking your stress out on a piece of gum might actually help you relax, at least according to one small study.

After earlier studies linked the act of chewing to stress relief in animals, researchers in Japan wanted to see if the same might work for humans. So they recruited 50 stressed-out nursing students and separated them into two groups: a gum-chewing group and a control group. The people in the intervention group were told to chew gum twice a day for 14 days for at least five minutes at a time. At the end of two weeks and again at four weeks, all of the volunteers answered surveys about their daily activities, stress levels and mood at the end of two weeks and again after four weeks.

After two weeks of chewing gum, the intervention group had significantly lower anxiety scores than the control group. They also reported having slightly more energy than the people who didn’t chew gum. While chewing gum during an interview or big meeting might not be such a great idea, it can’t hurt to try it otherwise (or even right before!).

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: the gum they chewed was mint-flavoured, it’s unclear whether flavour had anything to do with the results. Make sure to check with your dentist before you start since some dental work does not allow gum-chewing.

Start a sleep routine

One of the most immediate reasons why it’s important to control your stress is the effects it can have come bedtime. Most of us have dealt with the awful tossing and turning that can happen when we’re worried about something. What’s worse is that both stress and insomnia have similar effects on your body, so this often kick-starts a vicious cycle you can’t sleep because you’re stressed out, and then you’re even more stressed because you couldn’t sleep.

One way to help keep this under control is to create a nighttime routine, complete with a regular bedtime. This can be helpful because a sleep schedule trains your body to fall asleep no matter what’s going on in your life. Plus, incorporating relaxing activities like a nightly shower or bath, turning off your phone, or reading a book can help you wind down.

This last tip of turning off your phone cannot be stressed (for lack of a better word) enough. There is nothing more stressful or sleep- depriving than waking up constantly to check SMS or IMS from all over the world. You’ll be amazed how you can stop doing this once it becomes a habit. And you will notice the difference in your stress levels.

So, it is quite easy to stop stress soon. It just takes some discipline.

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Written by TimeOdd

TimeOdd is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.

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