Reduce cortisol and release oxytocin
Each of us regularly experiences stress and anxiety at work and in our personal lives. It is not in our power to influence some sources of anxiety, but we may well control our reaction to them. Here’s how exercise, meditation, music, physical intimacy, and 12 other tricks can help lower cortisol and stimulate oxytocin production.
The advice to expose your body to physical stress during times of mental stress may sound strange, but it is one of the most powerful ways to combat anxiety. Moreover, the more regular your workouts are, the more noticeable the effect will be. There are several scientifically based explanations for this:
Over the long term, exercise lowers the levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol, in the body. In addition, physical activity releases endorphins, also known as “joy hormones,” that improve mood and, in some cases, even work as pain relievers.
Exercise can improve the quality of sleep tainted by stress or anxiety. However, it should be borne in mind that intense loads should be completed 3-4 hours before bedtime, otherwise they can have the opposite effect and prevent you from falling asleep.
Regular exercise increases confidence in yourself and your body – a definite plus for mental health.
MAINTAIN YOUR CAFFEINE
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found not only in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, but also in chocolate. And each person has a different tolerance to caffeine.
Even though many studies suggest that coffee in moderation can be beneficial. On average, “moderate” is considered five or fewer cups of coffee a day, but each case is still individual. That is why it is necessary to monitor your own condition and adjust the amount of caffeine in accordance with it.
KEEP A DIARY
Another way to reduce stress is to keep a diary/private twitter account. You can write down things that cause you stress to “know the enemy by sight” or list things you are grateful for. The second approach helps to focus on positive thoughts and events in life, which, in turn, improves mood and reduces stress.
Incredible, but true: the easiest, most affordable and fastest way to reduce stress is chewing gum. One explanation is that gum chewing triggers the same brain waves that we experience when we relax.
Another study showed that the harder a person chews gum, the faster anxiety will go away (we add that this method should be practiced alone).
LEARN TO SAY NO
Not all, but some stressors are within our control. Manage those areas of life that you can influence. For example, learn to say “no” when someone asks you to take on another task on top of the ones already on your to-do list.
Using scents to lift your mood is called aromatherapy. Essential oils, aroma lamps, diffusers and candles are good for these purposes.
Certain scents are the most soothing.
Here are some of them:
- Roman chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
- Orange or orange blossom
SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
A recent study showed that people with poor social connections are more prone to stress and increased anxiety. The banal advice to spend time with friends and family actually has a completely scientific explanation. At this time, people (women more than men) produce oxytocin, a hormone that brings us into a benevolent state of mind.
It is not known whether laughter prolongs life, but it certainly can reduce anxiety. First, laughter will be a response to stress. Secondly, it will relieve tension by relaxing the facial muscles. In the long run, laughter will improve your mood and even your immune system.
Procrastination can lead you into reactive actions, causing you to struggle to catch up. This, in turn, causes stress, which negatively affects the health and quality of sleep.
The habit of making a list of things organized in order of priority will help to avoid this. Put realistic deadlines and reach them gradually.
Reduced anxiety, increased mental resilience, development of genes that affect DNA stability – these are just a few of the conclusions drawn from a study in which Google employees participated.
For those who have never tried meditation before, experts recommend starting with at least a minute alone. It’s not as easy as it seems. If you feel like you need “support” from outside, download the app to guide you through your practice. We tried and loved Buddo for its simple design, trending topics (from Stress to Addiction) and a helpful theory section.
The goal of numerous types of yoga is one – to harmonize the body and mind. To achieve this through practice is obtained due to the awareness that appears at the moment of focusing on one or another asana, as well as on breathing.
Several studies have examined the effects of yoga on mental health. Overall, studies have shown that yoga can improve mood and may even be as effective as antidepressants.
In some cases, yoga has helped lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate, and conversely, increased gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that is lowered in mood disorders.
Hugs, kisses, sex are your faithful companions on the way to get rid of stress. Such physical contact, as well as time spent with friends, contributes to the production of oxytocin and lower cortisol. All of the above lowers blood pressure and heart rate – signs of stress.
Fun fact: Humans aren’t the only ones who use hugs to reduce stress – chimpanzees do the same.
LISTEN TO SOOTHING MUSIC
Slow instrumental music can trigger a relaxation response, helping to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be especially soothing, but listening to your favorite songs can be just as effective.
The sounds of nature can also be very soothing. That is why they are often included in music for relaxation and meditation.
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to go into fight-or-flight mode. At this time, the body produces stress hormones, and they provoke a strong heartbeat, narrowing of blood vessels and rapid breathing.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises: diaphragmatic, abdominal and rhythmic. Model Gisele Bündchen practices alternative breathing.
Whatever type you choose for yourself, the goal remains the same – to focus your consciousness on breathing, making it slower and deeper.
SPEND TIME WITH YOUR PET
Having a pet can also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active, and providing companionship—all qualities that help reduce anxiety.
USE NATURAL REMEDIES
Of course, you should not prescribe any vitamins or dietary supplements on your own: the need, frequency and dosage should be determined by the doctor based on the prescribed tests. However, you may well fight anxiety with green or chamomile tea, herbal preparations, lemon balm and valerian root.
Deficiencies in vitamins D, B12, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and magnesium, which are replenished from salmon, green vegetables, beans, oatmeal and nuts, can affect the manifestations of anxiety.