5 scientifically-backed ways to reduce stress now

5 scientifically-backed ways to reduce stress now

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Stress can be hard to avoid, but scientists have identified some simple techniques to help you return to a naturally relaxed state.

Feeling a little wound up? Well, help is at hand. Researchers have been busy finding proven ways to help you tap into your relaxation response – the opposite of your stress response. Four out of five Australians say stress management techniques work for them .

Here are 5 to try.

1. Breathe well

Yoga lovers know this works – that just a few deep breaths can trigger changes in your mind and body that instantly melt stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen.

When we’re stressed we tend to start shallow breathing, which means our chests go up and down with each breath, stimulating the nervous system.

Deep breathing, meanwhile, where your abdomen goes up and down instead, does the opposite and helps us feel calm .

To put this into practice, place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. Slowly breathe in and out through your nose while making sure your chest is still and your abdomen is rising with each intake of breath and going down each time you exhale.

2. Take a walk

A stroll can soothe the mind and boost the brain’s production of feelgood chemicals like serotonin .

Not only does walking help to clear your head, it also stimulates the brain to produce chemicals called endorphins, which keep stress hormones like cortisol in check and trigger positive feelings .

Just about any walk will do but spending time in a green space , like a park, will have a more meditative effect. And you’re less likely to get sick too, research suggests that walking may be an effective immune-system booster.

READ MORE: 10 exercises to improve your body and mind

3. Pucker up

Grab your loved one and give them a goodbye kiss before you leave for work and you’ll start the day with lower stress levels.

Kissing kick-starts those endorphins again, which work on keeping stress hormones under control.

Not really into kissing outside of the bedroom? Then you’re eight times more likely to report feeling chronically stressed, shows a US study .

Easy fix? Try hugging a friend or loved one instead of kissing for the same stress-reducing effect .

4. Step away from that screen

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point, but spending hours using computers, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can leave you sleep-deprived, depressed and stressed.

And if you while away the hours before bed scrolling through friends’ posts on social media, your chances of getting wound up are even greater, with studies  showing how comparing our lives with those of friends online can fill us with envy and leave us feeling even more stressed.  

The solution? Have regular breaks from the screen, resist using any electronic devices at least one hour before bed and switch off that social media.

Before you do turn off the screen, though, you can always tackle your tension online by trying a stress-busting guided meditation.

TAKE THE QUIZ: Are you addicted to Facebook?

5 Get chewing

It makes a great breath freshener, but did you know that chewing gum may also make you feel more alert and reduce anxiety and stress , especially when you’re trying to juggle more than one task at once – and who isn’t these days?

If you’re worried about tooth decay, stick to the sugar-free variety and one that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners- usually found in health food stores.  

Chewing sugar-free gum between meals limits acid production in the mouth, which in turn reduces the plaque build-up  that leads to tooth decay.