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Quick Way To Lessen Stress

Helping someone else - even if that help is as simple as holding a door open or giving directions - can boost your mood and lower stress. A study from Yale University School of Medicine examined how helpful behavior affected daily stress at work or at home. Researchers recruited 77 adults, ages 18 to 44 for the 14-day study. The participants were asked to report daily in response to an automated phone reminder on the stressful events that had occurred that day and whether they had helped someone out. They also rated their mental health daily using a sliding scale ranging from 0 (poor) to 100 (excellent). The results suggested that helping others improved the participants’ daily well being – the more helpful they were, the better they felt about themselves. The researchers noted that laboratory based experiments have shown that providing support to others can help individuals cope with stress and increase positive emotion. This study was aimed at determining whether helping behaviors yield these benefits in the real world. The researchers also suggested that you may be able to diffuse holiday stress in small ways by helping someone out.

Washing Dishes To Chill Out

Washing dishes may seem an unlikely stress management therapy, but a new study suggests that it might be an ideal way to unwind. Researchers at Florida State University set out to learn whether dishwashing mindfully – paying attention to such elements of the chore as the scent of the soap and the shape and feel of the dishes – could help reduce stress. They recruited 51 college students and assessed their positive and negative personality traits, their mindful states and their psychological well being. The investigators then divided the students into two groups. Those in one group read a short passage on the sensory experience of dishwashing, while those in the other group read about proper dishwashing techniques. The students responded with their impressions of the two passages verbally and in writing, and then each participant washed 18 clean dishes. Afterward, the researchers found that nervousness decreased by 27 percent in the mindful dishwashers and mental inspiration increased by 25 percent. No such changes took place in those who had read about dishwashing techniques. The researchers concluded that routine daily activities such as dishwashing afford openings for mindful meditation, and offer opportunities to help calm the mind and body.

Want to Minimize Stress in Your Life?

 

Not all stress is unhealthy – but when stress seems to be persistent and taking over, managing it is important for your body, mind and spirit. Learn how to manage stress before it becomes an issue.

This tip is brought to you by SpontaneousHappiness.com, Dr. Weil's 8-week plan - visit today to start your 10-day free trial!

If you want to reduce unhealthy stress, start by identifying the problems and situations that create stress, then learn to manage them by practicing general techniques of stress protection, such as breathing exercises. As for supplements, consider the following:

  1. B-complex. B vitamins can help balance mood, calm the nervous system, and increase the efficacy of certain prescription antidepressants.
  2. Omega-3 (fish oil) supplement from molecularly distilled fish oil. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
  3. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). An extract from the root of this flowering perennial contains essential oils that have been shown to help some people more effectively deal with stress.
  4. Calcium and magnesium. Both are involved in many key physiologic processes and may help support healthy sleep, as well as muscle relaxation.
  5. St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). Extracts of this flowering herb, indigenous to Europe, may help boost mood and maintain a healthy emotional outlook.
  6. L-Theanine. This extract of tea can help promote a sense of calm and relaxation without sedation.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor has more information on these supplements - get your free recommendation and see if they are suggested for you.

 

Mindfulness for Migraines

Mindful meditation may prove a worthwhile do-it-yourself treatment for migraine headaches. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center recruited 19 adult migraine patients and assigned 10 of them to be taught mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) while the others received standard medical care. Those in the mindfulness group attended eight weekly classes to learn MBSR techniques and were asked to practice on their own for at least 45 minutes a day, for at least five days a week. Results showed that the mindfulness patients had fewer headaches than usual. In addition, the migraine episodes they did have were less severe and didn't last as long as they had in the past, or as long as the headaches experienced by those in the control group. Compared to the standard medical care group, the mindfulness patients had 1.4 fewer migraines per month. Because the study sample was relatively small, researchers will need to study the effect of MBSR on a larger group of patients in order to confirm its effectiveness. In the meantime, MBSR is worth a try. There are no side effects.

Protect Yourself from Stress (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the harmful effects of stress and how they can raise cortisol levels in the body. One effective method of reducing stress is to recognize stressors in everyday life and to quell them before they become unmanageable. Another method of reducing stress is to practice breathing exercises - a simple yet effective method of lowering heart rate and blood pressure while focusing on the body.

Learn more about breathing exercises.

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