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07/01/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/01/2018 16:06

5 Ways To Reduce Your Stress Levels

Feeling overwhelmed by the challenges in your life? You aren't alone. In a 2012 survey, 20% of Americans reported feeling extreme levels of stress. Before a job interview, or in sports, that 'fight or flight' impulse, created by extreme stress, can keep you on your toes. A little bit of stress from time to time can actually be a good thing. That said, when those stress hormones that originally helped us outrun a saber tooth tiger are being produced constantly, you can feel like you're constantly in overdrive.

At first, stress might manifest itself as memory loss, decreased spatial abilities and increased aggression. In other words, have you forgotten someone's birthday, or to stop at the grocery store? Got distracted while driving? Finding your co-workers more annoying than usual? These can be warning signs of chronic stress. The more serious long-term problems can be a bit trickier to spot right away, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease or insomnia.

A little self-care before problems get out of hand can make a big difference. Feeling like you've got no time for 'me time'? Remember what they say on an airplane, and 'put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others.'
Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your stress levels, in 10 minutes or less:

  1. Go for a quick walk outside: Studies show that spending just 5 minutes in a green space is enough to lift your mood. Plus, you'll benefit from the Vitamin D and exercise.
  2. Listen to some slow tempo music: Music is a powerful de-stressor. A recent study at McGill University found that listening to calming music may even reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
  3. Take a meditation break: If your mind is constantly racing, mindfulness might be able to help you slow it down. This can be done though meditating, eating away from your desk, or just taking in your surroundings on the way home from work. Studies suggest that practicing mindfulness may even help boost your resilience to stressful situations in the future.
  4. Write it down: Putting pen to paper can be a great way to process your feelings. Researchers at the University of Chicago even found that students who took 10 minutes before an exam to write down their worries performed better than those who sat in silence.
  5. Mindful breathing:

    Take some time out to learn how to breathe properly. Find a quiet spot and enhale by slowly taking in some deep breathes, hold for 30 seconds and then slowly exhale. Deep breathing relaxes muscles and reduces tension.