6 Instant Ways to Stress Less and Smile More

Tools

Story Updated: Mar 7, 2013

You can't completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can learn to deal with it in a healthy way. And since stress is associated with all sorts of negative health effects like high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, taking a few minutes a day to fight stress keeps you not only happy and smiling, but healthy too.

"Daily hassles and annoyances can get to anyone, but small changes make a big difference," explains Judy Saltzberg, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania's Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program. Here's how to keep smiling:

1. Take it outside.
"The first intervention I advise is physical activity," says Saltzberg. Even if you don't have time for a full workout, you can still boost your happiness. A study from the University of Essex found that just five minutes of walking, biking or even gardening outdoors can lift your mood and improve self-esteem.

Health bonus: Aside from melting away stress, you'll melt calories too!

2. Find time for tea.
Sipping a few cups of tea may make you more resilient to stress, according to research from the University College of London. Study participants who drank four cups of black tea a day had less of the stress hormone cortisol in their body after completing a challenging task than did those who didn't drink tea.

Health bonus: Tea's antioxidants may ward off some cancers, improve heart health and decrease risk of stroke.

3. Pop a piece of gum.
Under pressure? Chewing gum could help, say experts at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers found that people who chewed while multitasking reported feeling less anxious and less stressed than their gum-free peers. They also felt more alert and performed twice as well on stressful tasks.

Health bonus: Chewing sugarless gum after meals will not only reduce stress, but it can also help fight bacteria that cause cavities.

4. Indulge in dark chocolate.
Dessert probably puts a smile on your face already, but now there's proof of chocolate's joy-boosting benefits. German researchers found that people who ate 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks had significantly lower levels of anxiety- and stress-related hormones in their system.

Health bonus: Dark chocolate may also contribute to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack by 39 percent, suggests a study in the European Heart Journal.

5. Stop and smell the flowers.
Sniff your way to serenity and fight off sickness by keeping a bouquet of roses on your desk, wearing citrus-scented lotion or getting a whiff of cinnamon. Stress can wreak havoc on your immune system, but Japanese scientists found that when people inhaled a scent compound common in flowers, herbs and spices, their systems kept functioning normally in spite of the stress.

Health bonus: Smelling lavender before bed can help you sleep better, according to a study in Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery.

6. Flip your perspective.
Focusing on the positive in a stressful situation can help keep you smiling, says Saltzberg. Instead of stewing on a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, for example, think of it as an opportunity to call an old friend. "Tuning into your thinking and challenging doomsday thoughts can put a situation in perspective," says Saltzberg. And that defuses the tension.

Health bonus: A glass-half-full approach has been linked to faster recovery from injury and illness, according to research in the Journal of Personality.

After a few weeks of practicing these techniques, you'll not only feel happier, but you can rest easy knowing you're healthier too -- which is one less thing for you to stress about!

Add a comment

Name:

Comment: 250 Characters Left

WBNG and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the above comments or other interaction among the users. We reserve the right to screen, refuse to post, remove or edit user-generated content at any time and for any or no reason in our absolute and sole discretion without prior notice, although we have no duty to do so or to monitor any Public Forum.

Featured Professional
Dr. Michael Fallon

Cancer Center

Lourdes Regional Cancer Center


Watch our Docs on Call Interviews:
Interviews with Dr. Roney
Interviews with Dr. Anne
Interviews with Elizabeth Sweeney
Interviews with Michael Fallon
Interviews with Joe Viscello
Interviews with Michelle Williams
Interviews with Dr. Madhuri Yalamanchili
Interviews with Dr. Sandra Haynes
Interviews with Dr. Francine Rainone
Interviews with Dr. James Kondrup
Interviews with Dr. Michael Barrett
Interviews with Dr. Madhukar Bhoomireddi
Interviews with Nurse Julann Ashman
Interviews with Nurse Mary Mancini
Interviews Dr. Rayford Petroski
Interviews Dr. Ghassem Mangouri
Interviews Azur Kelly
The LOURDES Regional Cancer Center is the area's premier facility dedicated to spiritually based, comprehensive cancer care. Since 1957, the Lourdes Regional Cancer Center has been providing the Southern Tier of New York with outstanding cancer care.

Now, nearly fifty years later, the LOURDES Regional Cancer Center continues that mission. Since 1971, the Lourdes Regional Cancer Center has been accredited as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program. Most recently, Lourdes has been awarded the 2008 Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award by the Commission on Cancer American College of Surgeons. The Award is designed to recognize cancer programs that strive for excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients. Lourdes is one of only 95 facilities in the US to receive this award.

Today, Lourdes is among the largest and most sophisticated community cancer centers in the country. Here within the region's premier facility dedicated to the fight against cancer we've gathered the area's top physicians and oncologists. We've assembled select teams of cancer nurses and specialists and we've brought to the Southern Tier some of the newest weapons to fight cancer.

Pastoral care, nutrition services, and rehabilitation services are also available for both outpatients and inpatients. Lourdes Regional Cancer Center also maintains a link with the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) database. This database provides the latest information on research advances and new treatments, as well as emerging topics on the influence of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle factors in the development of cancer.

For more information visit www.lourdes.com.