Whether it’s because of work, study, family, or friends, everyone gets stressed sometimes. There are three main hormones, Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, and Cortisol, which cause us to feel stressed. The first two of those are responsible for our immediate, short-term feelings of stress, while Cortisol is responsible for more general stress. Here, we are going to look at 5 ways to reduce stress and the release of these hormones, helping you to feel calmer and healthier.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer yoga or pilates, meditation of any kind has been shown to reduce stress. One German study from 2005 found that after three months of meditation, participants were 50% less depressed, 30% less anxious, and 65% improved in terms of general well-being.
Meditation reduces the amount of adrenaline and norepinephrine released into the body. This has an immediate effect on reducing stress, and this effect becomes amplified the more a person meditates. In the above study, the participants meditated twice weekly for 90 minutes, but you can start yourself at home by doing 10 minutes a day, and increasing the amount of time gradually. Don’t jump in the deep end and try 90 minutes on your first go, or you will likely lose interest before you can feel the effects.
If meditation isn’t up your ally, progressive relaxation is a similar technique that you may find more interesting. Progressive relaxation involves tensing and releasing every muscle in your body in groups. The idea is to start at either your fingers or your toes, and move along the body as if the tensity was flowing through you. Tense each group up tight, hold it, and release. Not only will this distract your mind, but the physical actions will reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body.
Over 60% of Americans who exercise to reduce stress say that it is an extremely effective way of dealing with the issue. In contrast, only 29% of Americans who go online to deal with stress say that the internet is an extremely effective way of dealing with it. The reason that exercise is such an effective way of dealing with stress, despite causing our bodies to produce chemicals like adrenaline, is because it also causes our bodies to reduce endorphins. Not only do these make us feel happy, endorphins also act as both physical and psychological pain killers, which also helps us get a better night’s sleep.
That being said, the only effective way to approach stress is with balance. Too much exercise will leave you tired and sore, so don’t be afraid to take a break. In one experiment conducted by City University London, researchers had test subjects complete a stressful task, and then interviewed them afterwards. Half were given tea in the interview, and half were given water. Those who drank water were 25% more stressed than before the task, while those who drank tea were 4% less stressed than before.
While all of the above methods have been shown to effectively reduce stress, they all require you to take time out of your day regularly. While this is recommended, it is not always convenient. Fortunately, it has also been shown that chewing gum can help reduce cortisol levels and significantly reduce stress levels. This is a very convenient option, and you can do it almost anywhere. Just make sure the gum is sugar free if you make a habit out of it.