Find a ‘meditative’ hobby
Knitting, photography, gardening – any pastime that’s creative and absorbing – can be a powerful stress stopper. “Creative activities and hobbies can help a person focus on something productive and get away from their worries for a while,” explains psychologist Dr Robert Reiner.
Organise regular catch-ups with friends. In one study, brain scans showed that we register social isolation in the same way we register physical pain. So keep friends close. One caveat: associate with people who leave you feeling energised, not emotionally tapped out. Real friends will make you feel best.
Laugh a little (or a lot)
Simply anticipating laughter is enough to reduce cortisol levels by nearly half, according to one US study. So ask a funny friend out for coffee, watch an entertaining video on YouTube or ask a friend over for a binge session of your favourite sitcom.
Listen to music
Music can have a calming effect on the brain, especially while you’re facing down a major stressor. So queue up your favourite tunes when you’re hosting dinner for your in-laws or sitting in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, for instance.
Schedule a massage
A little pampering can rub your stress levels the right way. After weeks of massage therapy, levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased, on average, by nearly one-third, according to several international studies. Massage sessions also promote production of dopamine and serotonin, the same feel-good hormones released when we socialise or do something fun.
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