The rears of a line-up of vehicles on a busy road.

5 Scientifically Backed Ways to De-Stress

The rears of a line-up of vehicles on a busy road.

5 Scientifically Backed Ways to De-Stress

Stress can be unavoidable at work or on the road. Fortunately, here are 5 great scientifically-backed ways to de-stress during your travels.

Stress is a part of life. Everyone experiences it, whether it’s at work, at home, or on the road. Stress can affect everything from your productivity to your personal relationships. Science even suggests that it can shrink key areas of the brain, compromise the immune system, and make it harder to lose weight.

Taking steps to destress is essential to counteract the potential harmful effects. Learn how to relieve stress with these five simple tips.

Take a Walk

Two women walking down a sidewalk in a lush green park as they try to de-stress.

Many scientific studies outline the benefits of daily exercise. From strengthening your muscles to detoxifying your body of kynurenine, a substance produced when you’re stressed, exercise is a great equalizer. Research shows that taking just a 10-minute walk or doing a quick workout can help you destress, especially if you walk in a park or somewhere with plenty of greenery. Stepping away and getting some steps in can help clear your head and boost your endorphins.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Square and Twitter, is a fan of taking breaks to go on quick outdoor walks during office hours to destress. He also wakes up early to meditate and goes on a six-mile jog every day.

Replace Wishful Thinking with Mental Contrasting

Positive thinking isn’t always the answer. Gabriele Oettingen, a professor at New York University, suggests that envisioning something you want to happen can be counterproductive. Although it might make you feel a little better in the short-term, it can reduce your efforts to make it happen. She recommends using mental contrasting instead. “In a study of health care providers, we found that those who used WOOP were significantly more engaged with their work and less stressed than members of a control group,” notes Oettingen.

To use this tool, follow simple steps Oettingen calls Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP):

  • Close your eyes and picture your wish coming true.
  • Envision the obstacle preventing it from happening.
  • Imagine the action you would take to overcome the barrier and achieve the desired outcome.

Identify Your Triggers

It’s important to know exactly what triggers your stress reaction. Then, identify how you react and start thinking about potential solutions. Although you can’t remove everything that stresses you out, you might find some things you can eliminate. For example, if the traffic during your morning commute stresses you out, consider asking for a flexible schedule that allows you to arrive earlier or later to avoid the traffic, or check into working from home several days a week.

This is a tactic frequently used by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He says, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over,” the Amazon CEO said in an interview with Academy of Achievement. “I find as soon as I identify it and make the first phone call or send off the first e-mail message or whatever it is that we’re going to do to start to address that situation — even if it’s not solved — the mere fact that we’re addressing it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”

Have a Chuckle

Think about something that makes you smile. Watch a funny video or reminisce about something hilarious that happened in the past. Research proves that laughing is an effective solution for anyone interested in learning how to relieve stress. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., an attending cardiologist at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, notes that laughing reduces stress hormones and says, “Once you start laughing, it forces you to feel better.”
Research suggests laughter also has business-related benefits, including boosting creativity, productivity, and engagement.

Get More Zzz’s

Man sleeping under a large white comforter, with alarm clock and glasses on nightstand beside him.

Take a page out of Arianna Huffington’s playbook. The author, businesswoman, and founder of The Huffington Post says, “There is that special glow after a good night’s sleep when you feel really in the zone. You feel like, ‘Bring it on — you know I can handle anything!'”

Scientific research backs Huffington’s approach. Getting around seven to nine hours of sleep can help you tackle your daily stress more effectively. When you’re tired, you’re typically easily annoyed and less patient, which often results in higher stress levels.

What’s your favorite way to deal with stress? Tell us about it, or find more tips and useful information on Facebook.