In the previous blog post I wrote about the most common activities people engage in when they want to relieve stress. This included playing video games, eating, drinking, and shopping, among others. Unfortunately, the research shows that these activities that people choose to fight stress are actually quite ineffective and can even lead to additional stress in the long term. (Think, for example about someone who shops or gambles to relieve stress from money issues. The money issues are likely to be aggravated by the shopping or gambling, leading to increased stress in the future). In this post, I’m going to address the actions that really will help you to address and reduce your stress.
The American Psychological Association states that the following activities are the most effective for stress relief:
- Spending time doing a creative hobby
- Exercising or playing sports
- Going outside for a walk
- Praying or attending a religious service
- Meditating or doing yoga
- Listening to music
- Spending time with friends or family
- Getting a massage
The go-to activities for stress-relief that most people choose rely on dopamine stimulating the pleasure center of the brain. However, these activities don’t stimulate the mood-boosting neurochemicals such as serotonin, GABA, and oxytocin. These neurochemicals work to stop the stress response and reduce stress hormones in the body. They promote relaxation and feelings of security. The activities listed above do act to increase serotonin, GABA, and oxytocin to varying degrees. Exercise and meditation may be your best bets for the most increase of the most stress-relieving neurochemicals.
For more information on how to increase your oxytocin levels, see this blog post.
Whether it’s stress or something else, I would welcome the chance to partner with you. To schedule an appointment or a free 30-minute consultation, call or text (816) 226-4678.