Holiday decorations in the stores?! Another test due in school?! Major deadline at work you just remembered?! Or even “small” things—we all have stress. It’s not always negative, though. Think about some great things that have happened in your life that have been stressful, but were positive experiences. Those things might have felt good, but you still may have felt some pressure about the experience.
The one thing both types of stress have in common, though, is usually the physical reaction the body experiences. Things like sweaty palms, faster heart rate, and perhaps some trembling are all pretty common experiences. Regardless of the type of stress and situation, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself physically.
There are some ways of reducing stress that are a little different than what most people are familiar with (eat and sleep right, remember to breathe, etc). Next time you’re in a situation where you feel those signs of stress coming on, perhaps try some of these unusual ways to add to your arsenal of dealing with stress in a healthy way:
- Drink orange juice. The high levels of vitamin C are said to physiologically reduce your stress levels. It’s important to remember that orange juice does have a significant amount of sugar, so be careful if that’s a concern in your daily life. If not, since the body tends to burn sugar a little faster in times of stress, it might come in handy.
- Eat something crunchy. This relieves some of the physical tension, especially in the jaw and temples where many people tense up during times of stress. If eating isn’t convenient at that moment, consider chewing some gum (look for those healthier versions you can get like Glee gum which is non-GMO, free of the eight major food allergens, made using sustainable methods and packaged in recycled cardboard. Just knowing it’s an “earth friendly” type of product probably makes you feel good and release some stress, too!)
- Avoid that afternoon coffee. It might give you a temporary jolt of energy, but when you’re already a little jittery, both the initial buzz and the slight let down afterwards probably won’t be the most helpful way to de-stress.
- Look at fractals. Fractals are really cool pictures you can find on the internet or in the library (or even in the picture above) and consist of repeating similar of identical patterns in nature, art, or even architecture. For something similar, find some repeating patterns as screen savers on your phone or computer like falling snow or “dancing ribbons” which are easily found as free versions (no money=less stress, too!)
- Look at something green. Plants are the best choice, and it still counts if it’s only in pictures, but for most people who don’t have trouble seeing color, green is considered the most relaxing. For those who do have trouble with colors, inhaling a forest or evergreen scented essential oil has about the same result.
- Inflate a balloon or blow some soap bubbles. Don’t always keep those on hand? Try your local discount store (can usually find both for around $1) and keep them around. Pushing air through your lungs has lots of stress-relieving benefits, plus it’s pretty fun to do both activities. As a bonus, you’ll probably make those around you smile, which is great stress relief for anyone.
Our students, faculty and clinical doctors here at SCNM have all sorts of suggestions beyond the ordinary to share, and we bet you do, too. Feel free to offer your suggestions, we’d love to add them to our list! And never forget that old saying: This too will pass.