Your weekly dose of stress relief: Volume 11

By Doug Mattushek - 19 August 2019Views : 1912

In partnership with Health Grinder, SA Breaking News will be publishing weekly tips and tricks to help reduce your stress levels...

34. Set Some Time to Volunteer

Ever noticed that you feel good inside whenever you volunteer to help someone without expecting anything in return?

There’s some science behind that.

A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University found that adults aged 50 years or older who regularly volunteered had lower blood pressure compared to those who didn’t do volunteer work.

Helping out others played a part in lowering their stress levels as well as keep them active.

The study does mention that the participants volunteered for 200 hours a year. A previous study also notes that even doing 100 hours provides health benefits as well.

Aside from keeping your mind away from your stressors, volunteering gives you that sense of belonging to a community, which contributes to reducing stress levels.

You do need to have the right motives though…

Earlier research interestingly points out that one’s intentions is important as well.

The study observed that those who volunteered for non-altruistic reasons didn’t benefit from their volunteer work. Data showed that their mortality rate was similar to those who did no volunteer work at all.

35. Go Hug Someone

Yes, something as simple as hugging helps you cope with stressful situations.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Psychiatry found that in 59 women, those who frequently hugged their partners or spouses exhibited lower blood pressure levels and had higher levels of the hormone oxytocin.

In addition, a Carnegie Mellon University study observed that hugging also helps increase immunity to infections rooted from stress.

Our most interesting discovery is that you don’t even need to have that person near you.

A study reports that through the use of a huggable human-shaped device, participants experienced reductions in their cortisol levels after speaking to their partner for 15 minutes through the device.

This mode of communication proved to be better than talking via mobile phone, which didn’t elicit as good results.

This discovery bodes well for couples or friends who are separated by distance and can’t be with one another at the moment.

36. Enjoy Your Pet’s Company

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, over 85 million homes in the U.S. are pet owners. Most own dogs or cats, with over 36% having at least one dog at home, and 30% having a cat.

So why are we so fond of pets?

They make us feel good.

Playing and cuddling with your pet helps relieve the stresses of life.

Research performed at the Miami University in Ohio saw that in 3 studies, pet owners got more exercise, had better self-esteem and were more conscientious.

They also enjoyed the social aspect that their pets provided them without the risk of rejection that can occur with human interaction.

Pets also alleviate our stress responses.

This was shown by researchers at the University of New York at Buffalo where pets did better in reducing blood pressure levels caused by mental stress compared to hypertensive medication.

Pet owners, when faced with mental stressors, exhibited slower heart rates (-3 bpm) and lower blood pressure (-10 mmHg systolic, -8 mmHg diastolic) compared to those who didn’t own pets.