Even before a global pandemic broke out, you were likely stressed: According to the American Psychological Association's 2017 report, Stress in America, more than 60 percent of adults were stressed about money, work, and the nation's future. 1 With the COVID-19 Pandemic, Stress Numbers Have Risen: The same 2020 report found that 67 percent of Americans experienced an increase in stress over the course of the pandemic
A little stress – rushing to catch a bus, worrying about how the interview went – is inevitable. However, constant stress can increase your risk of mental illnesses like depression 3 as well as physical illnesses like heart disease.4 And this can also put strain on your relationships. In the 2020 Stress in America study, 20 percent of adults said they snap or get angry quickly, and 17 percent admitted yelling or yelling at a loved one because of stress
It can affect ours too Weight loss success: Our ability to choose healthy foods is impaired when we are stressed. 5
All of these risk factors for stress can lead to more stress. That's why we're going to stop – and offer these seven simple and natural ways to reduce stress and reduce your risks, improve your relationships, and meet your weight loss goals.
1. Take a five-minute break to play the occasional video game.
With their constant access to the latest event updates and the FOMO of social media, our phones are usually a source of stress. However, if used correctly, your wonder device can also help reduce stress. In a study of 66 students suffering from computer-assisted "cognitive fatigue," the researchers had the groups take one of three types of five-minute breaks: One group sat in a room with no phone or computer and did nothing. Another group took part in a guided relaxation activity. And a third group played five minutes of a casual video game. The video game group saw a similar reduction in stress as the guided relaxation group. However, they were also the only group that said they felt better after the break
What is a "Casual Video Game"? In the study, the authors describe them as "recreational games that are easy to play, easy to learn, and designed to be played at short intervals". The authors specifically mention Candy Crush and Angry Birds. For a new one, try the game the study participants played: Sushi Cat 2, a simple game where players drive around with a cat to collect and eat sushi.6 Only the description of this game can relieve stress!
2. Spend 10 minutes in nature.
Scientists have long known that spending time in nature provides a natural stress reliever. In 2020, however, the scientists found the minimum effective dose: just 10 minutes outside the stress of civilization was enough to improve mood and focus while lowering blood pressure and heart rate. And you don't even have to do anything in nature: these benefits came while sitting or walking
If you have 15 minutes and can sit in a forest, it's even better: “forest bathing,” a Japanese pastime where people recharge by sitting between the trees, has been shown to improve your immune system and prevent cancer 8, as well as reducing in Cortisol, a stress-related hormone 9
3. Move around.
Sitting in the woods is great, but sometimes you have to move your body to relieve that stress. Scientists believe that one way exercise helps with natural stress relief is by increasing a brain protein called galanin.10 Whatever the reason, it turns out that walking 30 minutes at lunch has shown hikers to do better feel more enthusiastic, less nervous, and more relaxed about work.11 And strength training has been shown to decrease overall fatigue, reduce symptoms of depression in people diagnosed with clinical depression, and reduce symptoms of anxiety in healthy adults
Why not both? Combine your daily walk with one of these 10 workouts that you can do right in your living room! >
4. Pet a dog or cat for 10 minutes:
Looking at pictures of cute animals may make you feel less stressed. However, it is nothing like the original! When participants in an adorable study were given 10 minutes to pet cats or dogs, their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, dropped significantly more than groups of participants who had only watched slide shows of animals. 13
Don't you have a cozy boyfriend of your own? When a friend and social distance can be safely visited, petting their pet – or plan to volunteer at your local animal shelter if you feel safe to do so.
5. Order a prawn cocktail.
When you think of "stressful foods", luxurious, high-calorie foods are likely to come to mind. This makes sense: as mentioned above, stress can affect our ability to choose healthy foods.
But one seemingly decadent food is great for stress reliever and surprisingly good for your calorie control: shellfish. Clams, clams, oysters, and shrimp are rich in an amino acid called taurine 14, which has been shown to have antidepressant properties.15 They also contain zinc 16, a mineral that is mood-enhancing. 17
If these crustaceans and mussels are prepared without butter sauces, you can also stick to the plan: a serving of shrimp (8 or 9 shrimp depending on size) with only 3 ounces is just one PowerFuel Nutrisystem! Are you looking for another delicious and easy way to make shrimp? Try this Cajun Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil Recipe! >
6. Drink (or eat) matcha.
Among its many health benefits, green tea has long been shown to reduce stress. So it's no wonder its super-concentrated form, finely ground matcha powder, has been shown to do the same. And it works whether you drink that green powder18 or even when you eat it: In a study of 36 people, those who ate matcha-infused cookies for two weeks had fewer stress markers compared to a group with green powder. free.19 What a delicious method for natural stress relief!
Get your own package and give it a try in these Nutrisystem approved Matcha blueberry muffins, in this surprisingly sweet one Matcha melon smoothie or in your own, homemade, guilt-free Iced Matcha Latte.
7. Do a simple body scan meditation.
You don't have to be a mindfulness master to get stress-relieving benefits from meditation: Scientists have found that even one of the most basic meditation practices, a body scan, has natural stress-relieving effects
In a body scan, meditators intentionally focus on each area of the body one at a time, trying to really experience that body segment – how your back is in contact with the chair you are sitting in, for example, and how the chair feels against your back. You can find short, guided body scans on YouTube or in your favorite podcast app.
* Always speak to your doctor if you feel excessively stressed, sad, or anxious.