15 Easy and Natural Stress Busters that Really Work

Puppy Ripping Paper. American Images Inc/The Image Bank/Getty ImagesBy Jessica Smith

Get results and stay motivated with your new workout routine by avoiding these common pitfalls

Sprinkle Fresh Nutmeg

In India, they've long used nutmeg to shake off funky moods. Reason? Studies there show that inhaling nutmeg's aromatic oils can kick-start the brain's production of relaxing, stress-soothing alpha waves almost instantly. Eating nutmeg can give you an even more impressive boost. According to Stanford University researchers, adding a quarter teaspoon to your daily diet could help you feel calmer and less easily rattled in as little as two weeks. Credit goes to nutmeg's active compounds -- myristicin and elemicin -- which actually mimic mood-boosting Prozac, the study authors say. Sprinkle fresh nutmeg over cereal, fruit, yogurt, hot cocoa and cider, and sneak it into recipes whenever you're whipping up sauces, veggie dishes and baked treats.

Write Yourself Big, Big Love Notes

Posting upbeat notes or inspirational sayings can help you feel more calm and confident. But, for an added dose of positivity, write larger -- or use a bigger font, if you're typing on your computer. According to a study at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, the soothing effect kicks in faster and lasts longer when women read upbeat messages written in larger print, instead of squished onto tiny slips of paper. Turns out, study authors say, your brain sees bigger words as more important, so it gives them a bigger emotional punch.

Walk Through a Door

Ever find that once you start thinking about something that's really bugging you, it's hard to shake off the stress and switch to happy thoughts? Try getting up and stomping through a few doorways! A recent study at Indiana's University of Notre Dame suggests that this simple trick can help you put an end to worrisome thoughts. How? According to the study authors, passing through doorways signals your brain's frontal lobe to file away what it's been stewing about and start fresh -- and being able to file away the unpleasant thoughts can help dampen your production of the stress hormone cortisol in as little as five minutes.

Play "Go Fish"

Great news from Harvard University researchers: Playing card games helps people relax, focus and squelch their worries so effectively, that it provides the same stress-busting benefits as exercise! It doesn't matter if you opt for something simple, like Go Fish with the kids, or dive into a no-holds-barred game of bridge with your most competitive friends!

For an added boost: Share jokes with your card partners. Researchers at Western Illinois University say that regularly enjoying -- and telling -- funny tidbits helps women feel more confident and secure and dials down chronic anxiety in about three weeks.

Hold Your Breath

Talk about a vicious cycle: When you're stressed to the max, you naturally breathe more quickly and shallowly, exhaling lots of carbon dioxide. As your blood levels of carbon dioxide plummet, your central nervous system becomes confused, triggering even more anxiety! To nix nervousness fast, inhale deeply, then hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can. According to Stanford University researchers, your carbon dioxide levels will quickly creep back up to normal range, calming your central nervous system and cutting your edginess and anxiety in half. Then to prevent future anxiety flare-ups, holistic medicine physician Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, suggests focusing on breathing slowly and deeply whenever you're surrounded by bedlam.

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