We all know stress is bad. Research is continually uncovering new ways that stress can negatively impact our physical health, emotional health, and even physical appearance. Excessive and prolonged stress is strongly associated with increased vulnerability to ailments ranging from the common cold and flu to insomnia, depression and anxiety, inflammatory illnesses, and heart disease to name a few. In addition, those experiencing stresses that do develop serious illness such as cancer, kidney disease or lung disease typically do not respond as well to treatments and often have longer or more complicated recoveries and an overall more negative prognosis.
With all of these potential negative consequences, it’s important to always try to find new ways to battle stress. Here are some easy and surprising things to add to your arsenal in the battle against stress.
Wash Your Troubles Away: Researchers have discovered that you can actually wash away negative feelings and negative thoughts, like post-decision doubt, remorse, and guilt, by taking a shower or bathing after an event or experience that causes these kinds of thoughts and feelings. Researchers caution, though, that washing and bathing can also reduce the pleasant effects of a positive experience, not just negatives.
Eat Chocolate: New research has shown that eating around an ounce and half of dark chocolate daily for at least two weeks can decrease levels of damaging stress hormones.
Beautify and Find a Mate for Better Health: Think about treating yourself to a new hairstyle, perfume, or outfit that will help you feel more attractive and focused on finding a mate. A growing body of research indicates that being in a committed relationship has numerous health benefits. Going from a single to a couple can decrease your vulnerability to the detrimental effects of stress. When faced with a stressor, singles are likely to produce higher levels of damaging stress hormones like cortisol.
Don’t Stress Over Stress: New research has suggested that the effect of stress is not always negative. Chronic, prolonged stress has been shown to have a clear detrimental effect on memory. However, researchers have now uncovered that more acute stress or short-lived stressful incidents can actually enhance memory.
Be Creative: Creative activities can be very beneficial in the management of stress, particularly stressors associated with chronic and enduring issues such as coping with physical illness, a demanding job, or troublesome relationships. Specifics benefits can include a decrease in uncomfortable physical symptoms, decreased stress and anxiety, and improvement in depressive symptoms.