Did you know that your body has many stress-fighting and happiness-inducing mechanisms that can be manually activated? Learn how to combat stress and anxiety with these tips and techniques.
Table Of Contents
- Release “Happy” Neurotransmitters | Use these techniques to activate the release of the happy neurotransmitters: get sunlight, exercise, eat something spicy, laugh & smile, eat dark chocolate and help others.
- Deep Breathing Exercise | Slow your heart rate with a simple breathing exercise.
- Stress-Points Finger Massage | Reduce muscle tension with simple finger massages on these key areas.
- Stretch | Do these 8 stretches to release muscle tension and promote blood flow.
- Wash it Away | “Reset” some of the symptoms of stress by washing your hands and face or taking a shower.
- Prevent It | Consider these measures to prevent stress triggers and aggravation.
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1. Release “Happy” Neurotransmitters
There are four neurotransmitters primarily responsible for your feeling of happiness: endorphins (numbs pain), dopamine (increases pleasure), oxytocin (feeling of love/inclusion) and serotonin (feeling of satisfaction). By learning how to trigger the production of these chemicals, you can use your own body’s natural defences to fight pain, anxiety and stress.
Get Some Sunlight
Humans need a certain amount of sunlight in order to be happy and healthy. Too much or too little and we start to suffer both physically and mentally. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that some people experience as a result of the change of seasons, often linked to the under exposure of sunlight.
If it’s difficult to get the necessary dose of daily sunlight exposure where you are, look into vitamin D supplements or light therapy. Please consult a doctor to ensure that you can safely proceed!
One of the most effective ways to produce endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, is to exercise.
When marathon runners refer to the “runner’s high” or bodybuilders mention how they “love the burn,” they’re referring, in part, to the endorphin rush they get from exercising. In fact, it’s been speculated that many professional athletes are actually addicted to exercise for this reason.
The most beneficial type of exercise is short and intense, but even a brisk walk or a few minutes of casual exercise can have a positive effect.
Eat Something Spicy
Your body produces endorphins to combat pain and stress. Therefore, one way to force your body to release endorphins is to endure more pain and stress! The burning sensation you get from eating spicy food is one such example. In response to the “pain” your mouth endures from spicy food, your body automatically releases endorphins.
Laugh & Smile
It’s no secret that laughter and smiling can combat stress and anxiety. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to access things that make us laugh and smile, such as:
- Calling a friend or loved one that knows how to make you laugh or smile for a quick chat
- Watching motivational or inspirational videos on YouTube
- Looking at funny animal pictures
Just a few minutes of these positive mood changing distractions can have a drastic positive impact on your productivity. However, you don’t want to get stuck watching dog pictures for 20 minutes, so make sure to keep these sessions short and brief!
Eat Dark Chocolate
Certain foods are known to stimulate the release of oxytocin. One of the most famous such foods is dark chocolate. However, I highly advise against relying on food as a stress combatant. This is because it can lead to you developing a habit of eating when stressed, which is not a good habit to develop. That being said, it is good as an occasional mood booster.
Study after study has shown that one of the greatest ways to obtain happiness and fulfillment is through helping others. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Give study advice
- Give a compliment
- Give a present
- Help with a task
Example: If you had only $1 and you had two choices, buy yourself a chocolate bar or share the chocolate bar with your friend, which one do you think would increase your happiness level and reduce your stress more?
2. Deep Breathing Exercise
One of the most effective ways to alleviate stress and anxiety is to slow your heart rate. A slow heart will reduce sweating, helps regulate your temperature and alleviates other symptoms of stress.
There are many ways to slow your heart rate, such as meditation and yoga, but I’ll introduce one very simple and effective routine.
7-7-7 Relaxation Routine
From start to finish, this exercise will take less than 2 minutes. It’s preferable to do this in a quiet, distraction free environment, but it can done anywhere.
- Close your eyes
- Relax the muscles in your body
- Breath in through your nose while counting to 7 seconds
- Breath out through your mouth while counting to 7 seconds
- Repeat 7 times
After this routine, you will be in a hyper relaxed state and most of the physical symptoms of stress should be completely gone!
3. Stress-Points Finger Massage
Another symptom of stress and anxiety is muscle tension. Similar to your heart rate, these problem areas can be targeted with a simple routine.
2-Minute Finger Massage
Finger massages don’t require any special skill and can be performed anywhere. All you have to do is lightly apply pressure and make slow circular motions on the spots listed below. That’s it!
- Your Temples: Gently massage the soft spots between your eyes and ears.
- Your Eyelids: Close your eyelids and gently massage the upper eyelid and lower eyelid.
- Behind Your Ears: Gently massage the bony area right behind your ears.
- Rear Neck: Feel around the area under your hairline on the back of your head and down to your shoulders for muscle tension.
- The Palms & Soles Of Your Feet: Use your thumbs to feel around for muscle tension in the palms of your hand and soles of your feet. Note: There’s an entire industry associated with this type of massage called Reflexology.
Stress can often be the direct result of physical discomfort, usually in the lower back, shoulder and neck areas as a result of sitting for long periods of time.
Luckily, releasing this stress is easy and can be done anywhere, anytime!
2 Minute Full Body Stretch
These 8 stretches will target the key problem areas of your neck, shoulders, legs and lower back. Each stretch should be held for 10 seconds with enough force to feel the stretch, but not feel pain.
Bring your chin in to your chest.
Keep your mouth closed and point your chin up to the ceiling.
Look forward. Using your hand, slowly tilt your head to your shoulders. Repeat for both sides.
Keeping your legs facing forward and your back straight, twist to one side. Use the wall to push off of to get a better stretch. Repeat for both sides.
Keep both of your legs straight and your feet planted on the ground. Reach down as far as you can with your hands.
Lean against a wall. Raise one leg up in front of you. Use your opposing hand to pull the leg in to the other side. Repeat for both sides.
Grab your foot behind your back with the hand on the same side. Pull up with your hand until you feel the stretch. Repeat for both sides.
Clasp your hands behind you. Try to bring your arms as close together as possible. Push down towards the ground.
5. Wash It Away
Another obvious symptom of stress is sweat. If left untreated, it can leave you feeling uncomfortable exacerbating the problem.
Wash Your Hands And Face
Rinse your hands under warm water (if your hands are cold) or cold water (if your hands are hot) and splash some on your face to feel instantly revitalized.
Take A Shower
Showering is a great stress reliever. If you’re at home, don’t hesitate to take a quick 5-minute rinse.
The act of washing with water signals to your body that you’re resetting your mood.
6. Prevent It
Rather than deal with stress when it occurs, it’s much more effective to prevent it. There are many factors that you may not be consciously aware of that can negatively impact your mood. Some of these things are minor, but cumulatively, they can have a significant impact.
- Location – If you’re twice as productive at a cafe than at home, but it takes you 15 minutes to walk to the cafe, then go to the cafe.
- Energy Level – Don’t start studying if you feel unusually tired or lazy. You’re better off doing something else (exercising, going for a walk, cooking, etc.) and coming back to it.
- Sleep – Inadequate sleep has a wide range of negative effects on your health and well-being. Make sure to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a day.
- Temperature – Most people are comfortable between 21 to 24 degrees celsius (70 to 75 fahrenheit) If you can’t control the temperature, dress appropriately to compensate. It’s better to be slightly cold than too hot.
- Hunger – Don’t start a study session too full (you’ll feel lethargic) or too hungry (you’ll be unable to focus).
- Thirst – Always stay hydrated. Keep a cup of water or a sugar-free beverage in front of you when possible.
- Study Area – Clear your study area of any distractions (no games, toys, electronics, etc.).
- Study Partner – Working with a good study partner (not a socializing partner) can have an amazing effect on your productivity and mood, especially if you find it difficult to stay productive on your own.
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