There’s no better day to take it easy than National Relaxation Day (August 15), so we’ve rounded up 10 great ways to de-stress. Not only will these practices help you press reset on your inner peace, they’re also alleasy, accessible, and backed by science, so you can nerd-out while you decompress.
1. Get a houseplant
Spending time in nature improves your overall wellbeing, but it turns out you don’t have to venture into the great outdoors to reap some of the benefits. Studies have shown that patients in hospital rooms with plants report lower levels of stress, so bringing a few into your house or office space will have similar benefits.
2. Sip a cup of green tea with honey
Green tea contains stress-reducing L-theanine, so there’s a reason we associate a steaming mug of tea with comfort. Honey, unlike other sweeteners, has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is sometimes linked to depression.
3. Pucker up
Cuddle up to someone you love and give them a smooch! Kissing releases oxytocin, a chemical that is shown to significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
4. Find something to laugh about
Watching a funny video or joking around with friends does more than just brighten your day—it physically relaxes you, too. Laughing increases the levels of endorphins released by your brain which make you feel happy.
5. Savor some chocolate
Your favorite dessert is as good for your mood as it is for your taste buds. Studies show that as little as 40 grams of dark chocolate per day can promote the release of endorphins.
6. Take a yoga class
It’s not just a goofy stereotype, people who practice yoga really are zen! Through a combination of controlled breathing exercises and poses that relax your muscles, yoga can help reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
7. Mow the lawn
Sure it may sound like a chore, but mowing the lawn is more than just another item on your to-do list. The scent releases a chemical (the same one responsible for the fresh-cut grass smell) that makes people feel relaxed.
8. Chew gum
It doesn’t matter if it’s bubblegum, peppermint, or cinnamon. Chewing gum has been found to reduce the amount of cortisol in saliva, lower stress levels, and improve concentration.
9. Focus on relaxing your muscles
This may sound like a no-brainer, but, if you tell your body to relax, it will listen. Starting at your toes and working upwards, slowly tense and then release the muscles of each part of your body.
10. Just breathe
Taking long, steady, relaxed breaths is a main component of meditation. When we get stressed, we tend to take short, quick breaths, but slowing down helps get oxygen to our brain and activates our parasympathetic nervous system which initiates a feeling of relaxation.
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