by Karen Asp, REDBOOK
Feeling more stressed than ever? Join the club. Three quarters of adults have experienced moderate to high levels of stress in the past year, according to the American Psychological Association. These surprising strategies will go a long way toward taming tension - fast.
1. Tidy up a little. Here's a reason not to hate housecleaning: Doing 20 minutes a week of housework (or sports, gardening, or walking) could decrease your stress levels, according to a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. "If the activity is vigorous enough, stress-reducing endorphins will be released into the body," says Mark Hamer, Ph.D., the lead study author and a senior research fellow at University College London. (Not to mention the "yay, me!" boost you get from completing even one chore.)
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2. Stare out the window. You know how good a walk outside makes you feel. But even just peering through a window can calm you down, says a study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
People who looked out at nature scenes like a public fountain, grass, and trees experienced a greater drop in heart rate than they did watching the same images on a high-definition plasma screen. The effect was speedy: Subjects spent just one minute or less looking outside. And the longer nature's in your sights, the greater the stress relief. So make a point of sitting by your biggest window to pay the bills, sip your tea, or just daydream.
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3. Sniff some coffee. The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, slip into a Starbucks and take a whiff: The aroma of roasted coffee beans eased the stress of sleep-deprived rats, according to a study from the Journal of Food Chemistry. And based on other research showing that scents (such as citrus and lavender) can lower anxiety in humans, researchers say it's safe to assume it works on us too (no surprise if you're already a java junkie).
Check out the remaining four ways to reduce stress and anxiety
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.