Stress Ninja: 4 Stress Busters That Take Zero Extra Time

September 25, 2011

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When I’m stressed, I fantasize about escaping to the spa for a nice long massage. Or getting centered at the yoga studio with a luxurious 90-minute class. Or crawling into bed for an afternoon nap. But there’s one problem: who’s got the time for all that? Trouble is, my stress is often there specifically because I’m in a time crunch. All the conventional de-stressing advice (Exercise! Meditate! Get more sleep!) is great, but sometimes, I simply don’t have the time.

 So, are there ways to detox from all that stress…without piling on more pressure by cutting into your maxed-out schedule?

 You bet.

 Here are four groovy stressbusters that can slip, ninja-like, into your life.

 1.Take a spoonful of music medicine. Research shows that music therapy lowers serum cortisol, heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived stress level. If music can alleviate the stress of parents waiting in a pediatric emergency department (as shown in one study), it can certainly help you. It only takes a second to pull out your iPod or pop in a CD; let music dissolve your stress while you keep doing what you gotta do.

2.Drink green tea. You’re at Starbucks already, topping up your tank with caffeine to keep you going…so try switching out that venti nonfat latte for a soothing green tea. Research has shown that a component of green tea, L-theanine, increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels in the brain—changes that are associated with increased relaxation.

3.Don’t vent. This isn’t something to do so much as something you can skip doing. It’s a common impulse to vent about your stressors with girlfriends. Turns out, kvetching is not necessarily the best idea. Research shows that when we rant and complain, it actually makes us feel worse. If you need to unload, keep it brief. An hour can easily go by and all you’ve done is bitch, you haven’t solved any problems, and now you’re all riled up and feeling terrible.

4.Breathe with your belly. You have to breathe, right? Abdominal breathing is easy and has been shown in several studies to reduce anxiety, panic attacks, depression, headaches, and fatigue. Instead of using shallow “chest breathing”, you use your diaphragm to fill your lungs more deeply. To learn it: put one hand on your stomach, the other on your chest. Breathe in through your nose and allow your abdomen to push out. Exhale fully, allowing your abdomen to retract. Rinse and repeat.

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