Stress is a common experience for many people. Some individuals face it on a daily basis, while others encounter it less frequently. Regardless of the frequency, stress has side effects that are clear, such as increasing the risk of disease or illness, leading to premature aging, and weakening the immune system. In fact, over 54% of Americans feel a need to reduce stress levels on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are science-backed ways that have been proven to reduce stress levels starting today.
First, practicing power poses is a helpful way to reduce stress. Adopting the body language associated with dominance for just 120 seconds can create a 20% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. This means that posture can make a significant difference in mood, emotions, and energy levels. Therefore, taking regular breaks during work and putting oneself in power poses for 2-3 minutes can have a significant impact on stress levels.
Second, laughing is a great way to reduce stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter enhances intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases endorphins that the brain releases. Even anticipating something funny can increase endorphins in the brain, so finding ways to laugh throughout the day can be beneficial.
Third, practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress. Although gratitude may sometimes be placed in the same category as spiritualization or positive psychology, research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress. Additionally, it’s challenging to experience fear and gratitude at the same time, as we’re naturally more optimistic when we’re grateful for what we have.
Fourth, getting moving, even for just 7 minutes, is also a helpful way to reduce stress. Exercise has been proven to improve mental health, decrease the risk of diseases, and improve quality of sleep and is, therefore, a key factor in reducing stress.
Fifth, developing a growth mindset can aid in reducing stress levels. A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone, while a growth mindset comes from the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort. Practicing either mindset can significantly impact optimism, stress levels, and decision-making.
Sixth, using stress as fuel can change one’s entire perspective about what stress means. Stress often means pushing oneself to grow out of one’s comfort zone because of a deeper meaning that goes beyond one’s current emotions. Viewing stress positively can even be good for the heart.
Finally, learning something new is a helpful way to reduce stress levels. Research shows that finding 20-30 minutes a day to do something that interests you can be one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase happiness. This is because interest replenishes energy, meaning that it doesn’t just keep us going despite fatigue; it actually replenishes energy that flows into whatever we do next.
In conclusion, stress is a common experience that can lead to negative side effects. It should be taken seriously and addressed. Fortunately, there are science-backed ways to reduce stress levels starting today. By practicing power poses, laughing more, practicing gratitude, getting moving, developing a growth mindset, using stress as fuel, and learning something new, it’s possible to reduce stress and increase happiness.