Health MATTERS – use your common SENSES

 To Outsmart STRESS

Stress is here to stay so we need every tool we have to help our bodies deal with it.

The latest research uncovers some surprising new ways to see, sniff, hear, taste and touch your way to better sleep, reduced blood pressure, even lower stress – all backed by real science.

Here’s a sense-by-sense guide.

SMELL

essential oils

essential oils

Aromatherapy aficionados have long touted Lavender’s relaxation benefits.  It now has company in the feel-good department.  A study published in Stress and Health reveals people who regularly breathe in peppermint essential oils are even less stressed (with lower cortisone levels) than those who use lavender.  And don’t forget the uplifting scent of citrus.  Japanese researchers discovered that inhaling the smell of lemon is an instant mood booster.

TASTEstress3

Ever found yourself at the bottom of a tub of Haagan-Dazs after an intense day?  People eat chocolate and candy during times of stress.  But if you’re going to indulge, do it mindfully.  Of course there are foods that can help you to manage stress without the extra calories.  Try combining complex carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains), lean protein (beans, chicken, fish, eggs) and healthy fats (olive oil, grape-seed-oil, avocado, seeds and nuts) for snacks and meals to balance out blood sugar and stabilize energy levels.  A new study from University College London, in the U.K. showed that a daily dose of black tea reduces stress hormones.

HEARstress4

Brain imaging shows certain music stimulates areas of the brain responsible for emotions.  A U.K. sound therapist has used this information to develop the most relaxing music ever recorded (it even slowed listeners’ heart rates).  Research at the University of Montreal stressed people out by making them do math in front of an audience.  Then they were sent to a silent room while others got to listen to Enya.  Only the music listeners didn’t experience a spike in cortisol levels.

SEE

Picasso and Plant

Picasso and Plant

20140409_155610 - CopyEnvironmental surroundings can definitely make a big difference to our stress levels.  A lot of clutter in your home or office can represent chaos.  But it’s not just about tidying up your room -hang a nice picture or paint the walls in your favourite color.  Even looking at something as small as a potted plant can help lower stress.  A study found out that workers became more productive, had lower blood pressure and felt more focused with a little flora.  Another study tracked stress levels in London city workers before and after they went to an art gallery.  After soaking up some Matisse and Picasso, the workers returned to their jobs and reported feeling less frazzled.  Tests confirmed their cortisol levels dropped.

TOUCH

yes, I'm due for another

yes, I’m due for another of these.

There’s a good reason so many of us book time at the spa when our stress levels max out.  The touch of massage has definite relaxation benefits. It also helps when we take a break and make time for ourselves as we tend to carry stress in our neck, shoulder and upper back. Even soothing textures can help – the feel of something soft on our skin (like a plush scarf) can have a calming effect.

 

How do you relieve STRESS?

Credit – Laura Bickle for Chatelaine

 

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