Images of your boss’s big red angry face keeping you awake at night? Breaking out into cold sweats every time the ‘bing’ of a new e-mail dropping into your inbox rings through the air? Seriously considering buying a canoe and paddling to Panama to fake your own death and start all over agin? Yeah, something tells us you’re a little stressed.
Now, taking a big deep deep breath, rubbing your temples and saying ‘cellar door’ over and over again often doesn’t cut it when it comes to smashing anxiety. Neither does smashing your work phone into a billion tiny pieces, apparently. Thankfully, science has the answer.
Read on and discover ten super simple lifestyle tweaks that well help bring your blood pressure back down to Earth, and will make 2016 the most chilled-out year of your life…
Check your e-mails just three times a day
Feel like a prisoner in your own inbox? It’s time to break the shackles that bind you to that unfunny office gag with everyone CC’d in, and those dodgy messages from a Nigerian prince offering you £10,000 in return for your mother’s maiden name. Research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found 100% of participants that were restricted to checking their inbox just three times a day benefited from vastly reduced stress levels. Once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before home time should do it. If it’s really important, we’re sure they’ll ring you (unless you’ve already cut the telephone cord in a rage, that is).
Download Colorfy (for free)
Unless you had crayons stuck in your eyes and ears during the tail end of 2015, you’ll know that adult colouring books are sooo hot right now. In fact, punch the term into Amazon, and you’ll find more than 3,000 of the things ready for you to get your grown-up felt tips into. The craze supposedly prompts positive neurological responses in participants, which help relax the brain, according to cognitive neuroscientist Dr Stan Rodski. On the train to work tomorrow, download the Colorfy app, and spend your commute painting your way to an anxiety-free morning.
Drink eight glasses of water a day
That brain of yours needs watering, so much so that even mild dehydration can have a big effect on your mental wellbeing and performance. And when you’re not at your best, you become a big old irritable stress head. Experts reckon that between 1.5 and 2.5 litres of water a day should do it, so keep a big bottle of water at your desk this week to monitor your intake.
Lather up in lemon-scented shower gel
If you needed an excuse to spend just a couple of minutes more in the shower, this is it. Japanese science boffins reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that certain scents actually alter your gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that slash stress levels. They reckon that huffing a noseful of lemon, mango or lavender for five mins can chill you out, fight depression and help you find a better night’s sleep.
Dig out your Game Boy
Here’s another stress buster that will almost definitely anger your girlfriend. Head into the attic and search out your old faithful Nintendo Game Boy, because a 30 minute session on Tetris has been proven, in the PLoS One journal, to calm you down by distracting the portion of your brain that manages conceptual thinking. Not only that, but the old school puzzler will actually make you eat healthier, too. A study by psychology professor Jackie Andrade found that “playing Tetris decreased craving strength from 70% to 56%.” Put down the Jaffa Cake, and pick up that battery-powered grey brick.
Turn your iPhone over when you sleep
Not exactly a little ray of sunshine after a bad night’s sleep, are you. Could that be something to do with that 3am Words With Friends marathon? Could that bedtime Tinder sesh have caused your lack of snooze? In short, yep. You see, your iDevice emits a sleep-preventing blue light from its screen, making it way harder for you to enter the land of Nod when the time comes, and turning you into a raging Hulk with the alarm sounds in the AM. Either turn the screen face down, or better still, turn it off for a better shot at those forty winks.
Eat eggs for breakfast
C’mon, you knew that double helping of Coco Pops was doing you no favours. But we bet you didn’t think it was making you angry? Instead of sugary cereals, eggs, just like wholegrains, are rich in vitamin B5 and B6, which are both key players in cutting your stress levels down to size. A couple of dippy eggs with wholegrain toast soldiers could help you find Bob Marley levels of chill.
Aaah, so that’s the secret to Alex Ferguson’s success. Not just for freshening your breath, chewing on gum like the legendary Manchester United managerial masticator has been found to slash your cortisol levels and increase blood flow to the brain, which, in turn, will steady your nerves by 18%. You’ve got the clever boys and girls of Northumbria Uni to thank for that piece of advice.
Make your next box set obsession a funny one
There’s actually some truth in the term ‘Netflix and chill’. In 2012, the University of Buffalo found that ogling your favourite show is a surefire way to boost your willpower, and could even enhance your brain to perform better when faced with puzzles. What’s more, if you’re about to tuck into a few hours of on-screen comedy, know that laughter reduces the stress hormone epinephrine by a mahoosive 70 percent. We suggest getting your square eyes into Netflix’s LOL-fest Master of None, stat.
Swear like a sailor
OK, so The Thick Of It’s effing and jeffing supremo Malcolm Tucker may not be the best person to illustrate our point, given he’s the angriest man on TV. But a casual obscenity here and there (out of earshot from your mum, of course) is a shortcut to a more relaxed self. Researchers at Keele Uni in Staffordshire forced a group of volunteers to hold their hands in freezing water while cussing away the stress and pain, and found they could last far longer than those that chose more nan-friendly terminology. F*ckety bye!