You don’t have to be Buddha to inject a little relaxation into your life
You’ve read a hundred stories about celebs who practice yoga or meditate to battle stress. And both habits are proven calm creators. But there are many more simple, celeb-or science-endorsed ways to mellow out. Here, eight of them.
At the premiere of his first film, a drama about the pitfalls of technology called Disconnect, the designer Marc Jacobs told interviewers he’d banished all cell phones from his bedroom. Good idea, Marc. Sleep experts say the light from the gadgets (not to mention the urge to check your email or surf the web every time you wake up) can seriously mess with your slumber, leaving you fried and frazzled. In fact, a U.K. study found simply checking your cell elevates your stress. So dust off your old alarm clock and charge your phone somewhere else while you sleep.
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A study from Yale shows wrapping your hands around something warm, like a mug of tea or coffee, can increase feelings of calm and well-being. Stress hormones like cortisol trigger your body’s fight-or-flight responses, one of which draws blood and heat away from your limbs and into your core. As a result, your brain interprets cold hands or feet as a sign of distress. But heating your hands signals to your brain that you’re in a safe, comfortable place, which helps you relax, the study indicates.
Leonardo DiCaprio recently bought a $10 million Manhattan apartment featuring an aromatherapy-infused air circulation system (okay, and a kind-of-questionable vitamin-C shower). But he may be onto something with the aromatherapy. Research from Korea suggests scents like sandalwood, peppermint, and sage can help relieve anxiety.
When life gets crazy, First Lady Michelle Obama has told members of the press she hops on her bike for a stress-lowering ride (preferably along Lake Michigan when she’s back in Chicago). Exercise is a proven calm-inducer, according to research from Harvard Medical School. And spending time in nature is another science-backed way to experience a little calm, shows a study from Scotland.
Kendall Jenner calls her sister for a laugh when she’s feeling harried. And multiple studies have found social interaction, especially with a close friend who can make you laugh, is a great way to relax and beat back stress. Speaking with a pal enhances your sense of social stability and belonging, leading you to feel more confident and calm even if other aspects of your life spin out of your control, suggests a study from the journal Communication Research.
Clenching your jaw or gritting your teeth trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, research shows. But relaxing your mouth has the opposite effect. A report from Cambridge University says that trilling your lips (a.k.a. making a motorboat sound) relaxes tension in your mouth, jaw, and throughout your body. (So that’s why your yoga instructor tells you to do it!)
Halle Berry has told reporters she decompresses by cleaning up her house. She’s onto something, because a study from Princeton University has shown removing clutter or organizing your space can boost your sense of calm and order. The Princeton researchers say a cluttered visual field creates competition in your brain’s neural networks, which can increases feelings of stress. But straightening things up relieves that tension.
Even if you have no reason to grin, smiling will soothe your stressed brain, research shows. One (crazy!) study from the University of Wisconsin found that people who’d received Botox injections—and couldn’t furrow their brows in a frowning expression—actually experienced less anger and sadness than their un-Botoxed counterparts. Basically, a two-way current connects your emotions and your facial expressions. So in the same way that feeling happy will make you smile, smiling will make you feel happy, the researchers say.