The sports category has moved to a new website.

15 simple ways to relax, according to scientists

It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind and let the stress pile on.

null

And getting rid of that stress often seems exponentially difficult.

So if you're looking for a way to escape, here are some science-backed ways to decompress — even if you can't get away from the things that are stressing you out.

Get a massage.

Yes indeed, getting a massage may be a great way for some of us to relieve stress and relax.

ADVERTISEMENT

One small study looking at the effect of back massages on Japanese students preparing for exams found that people who got them had less muscle stiffness and lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Some caveats though: the study was small, and it didn't have a control group. In other words, there's no way to know if they'd sent another group of people into a quiet room and not given them massages that they wouldn't have seen similar results, perhaps just from being isolated from their studies.

Meditate.

Meditation is often seen as a great way to relax, and many studies back up that idea. In a meta-analysis looking at several studies of relaxation training in people with anxiety, the observed effects of meditation were greater than those observed for other intentional relaxation techniques, such as autogenic training (a process that involves making your body feel heavy and warm) and applied relaxation. Other studies have also outlined its effect as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant method.

Want to learn how to meditate? Check out this nifty graphic.

Exercise regularly.

ADVERTISEMENT

can help the body release mood elevating hormones, like endorphins, and reduce levels of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.

Take a hot bath.

Visit a sauna.

Spend time with a dog.

Have a make-out session.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kissing may help reduce levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, at least according to research by p

Take deep breaths.

Deep breathing is what the American Institute of Stress calls a "super stress buster."

When we're anxious and stressed, it can cause you to take shorter breaths, so byThis, in turn, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes referred to as the "rest and digest system," because it's the part of the nervous system that slows heart rate, increases intestinal activity, and relaxes certain stomach muscles.

Tense and relax your toes.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the Mayo Clinic's many relaxation techniques involves gradually tensing up different muscle groups, starting with your toes. They advise holding the tension for five seconds, and then slowly relaxing the muscles.

This is called "progressive muscle relaxation" and researchers think it may help boost our awareness of the physical sensations associated with relaxation.

Close your eyes and picture your favorite vacation spot.

Zoning out can be a great way to relax, and it's especially fun if your mind drifts off to a sunny location that's stress-free.

Some psychologists advise spending about 15 minutes a day daydreaming: not only could it help you focus, they say, but as a meditation technique it could also help reduce stress.

ADVERTISEMENT

Actually take a vacation.

Just make sure it's a relaxing one — so holiday travel might not cut it.

In a study looking at happiness levels in people who took vacations and then ranked them, those who rated their sprees as "very relaxed" also reported feeling happier compared to those who did not vacation, and even compared to those who did vacation but did not report feeling "very relaxed." The benefits of these "very relaxed" vacations typically lasted at most two weeks, the study found.

Try yoga.

The Mayo Clinic is a big fan of using yoga as stress relief. Intentional breathing, exercise, what's not to love?

ADVERTISEMENT

Still, while some studies have shown that yoga could be a useful component to treating depression, more studiesare necessary to confirm the beneficial effects of yoga across the board.

Listen to music.

Feeling stressed? Put in some ear buds.

One study found that listening to music before a typical stressful situation made it easier for the nervous system to recover when compared to not listening to music before the event. This was measured by monitoring cortisol hormone levels, heart rates, as well as reported levels of stress and anxiety. In fact, there's a whole area of treatment, called music therapy, that's dedicated to using music as a way to supplement other medical treatments.

Paint or draw something.

ADVERTISEMENT

If getting visual is more your thing, it may be time to break out that adult coloring book.

The Mayo Clinic also recognizes art therapy as a relaxation technique. And there are some studies that seem to back it up as a stress-relief tactic — one study on the benefits of coloring pre-designed mandalas suggested that the exercise can reduce anxiety.

Get some alone time.

Although too much alone time could be stressful in itself, taking a second to be intentionally alone could be a helpful technique to relax. A 1997 study found that teenagers that spent time alone had a positive experience with solitude in comparison to younger children.

And having alone time could be a good way to give yourself time to meditate, which we've mentioned before is a promising way to relax.

ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke

Recommended articles

10 African cities with the highest crime index at the start of 2024

10 African cities with the highest crime index at the start of 2024

Machoka at 70: Emotions run high during Citizen TV presenter's birthday [Video]

Machoka at 70: Emotions run high during Citizen TV presenter's birthday [Video]

Diwali 2022: Is Monday a public holiday in Kenya?

Diwali 2022: Is Monday a public holiday in Kenya?

Akothee finally reveals reasons for separating from Omosh 1 month after wedding

Akothee finally reveals reasons for separating from Omosh 1 month after wedding

Man, once a ‘billionaire’, recounts how he lost wealth, now sells his book on streets [Video]

Man, once a ‘billionaire’, recounts how he lost wealth, now sells his book on streets [Video]

Details of Ngina Kenyatta's luxurious restaurant

Details of Ngina Kenyatta's luxurious restaurant

Zero Chills! Jackie Matubia's advice for Milly Chebby amid the unfollow drama

Zero Chills! Jackie Matubia's advice for Milly Chebby amid the unfollow drama

Nigerian royal dignitaries, including four kings and a queen, expected to attend Museveni’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations

Nigerian royal dignitaries, including four kings and a queen, expected to attend Museveni’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations

10 African countries with the strongest military power in 2024

10 African countries with the strongest military power in 2024

ADVERTISEMENT