Managing Stress: What Does The Research Say?

Stress management. It’s like the unicorn we all hope exists, however, nobody has actually observed it first hand. I say that jokingly because, of course, stress management is very much within our reach…life balance is the unicorn! 😉

If you need some stress management tips you’re in luck—researchers have uncovered certain practices and behaviors that are proven to help.

The Obvious:

Sleep more

It should come as no surprise that people who experience more stress sleep poorly. To alleviate this problem you should establish a bedtime routine, abstain from alcohol and/or caffeine, and avoid TV or any LED screen before bed.

Exercise daily

Most of us know that exercise is a powerful stress-buster, but do you  know why? Some studies suggest that working out releases enzymes that counter a byproduct of stress and inflammation, called kynurenine. Who knew?

 

The Not So Obvious:

Ignore email

I think most of us secretly know this fact, but we stuff it in a dark corner somewhere. Am I right? We have such a love-hate relationship with email. We love keeping that in-box clean, and we hate any message that infiltrates our de-cluttered box.

And then there are those of use who are just. straight. addicted. We hate the ping of a new email message and yet, wild horses wouldn’t keep us from checking it.

Scientists who study productivity say we take an average of 8-15 minutes to refocus after acknowledging the arrival of an email. I won’t even tell you how much time you are wasting actually reading each email as it arrives throughout the day.

Bottom line: The less often you look at/read your email, the less time you waste and the less stress you experience. Simple.

 

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness practices range from basic at-home meditation to a regular yoga practice or group meditation. To be a mindful person, it doesn’t mean you have to dreadlock your hair or forgo deodorant. No, mindfulness simply means that you have strategies that anchor you in the moment. Anything you can use regularly—your breath, activities such as eating, the environment, your body—to bring you to the here-and-now will ultimately improve your coping skills and impact your perception of stressful situations.

A hug a day…

Surprisingly, researchers have found that daily hugs actually keep us healthier  by improving our ability to fight the effects of stress. If you are in a relationship this is a good opportunity to incorporate a little more physical touch. If you’re single, look for the opportunities to give someone a hug. They may need it just as much as you do!

 

Moral of the story: Stress management require a multi-faceted strategy—it is certainly not a one size fits all. Fortunately, research suggests a number of places to start. Now it is just up to us all as individuals to create our own personal plans.

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