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3 Wacky Stress Cures that Actually Work

Stress happens.


Stress is, unfortunately, an inevitable part of life. Whether you’re under a tight deadline, working toward an ambitious goal, or dealing with difficult circumstances, stress is a by-product of experiencing complicated events. Sometimes, stress is a sign that you are outside of your comfort zone — which can stretch you and help you grow — but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant to deal with. While we can’t make your stress go away, we can give advice on how to manage it easily without medication. And as an added bonus, you don’t need to spend any extra money. Check out these unusual, research-backed tips for handling stress quickly.

To improve mood when you’re angry…

Bite down on a pencil. That’s right. The quickest fix when stress strikes is biting on a pencil, pen, or even a chopstick. Research out of Australia found placing one across the corners of your mouth and very gently biting down engages the same facial muscles as when you grin —literally turning a frown upside down. Researchers say mimicking a smile in this way triggers the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) to release mood-lifting compounds that trick the brain into feeling upbeat.

To break the worry loop…

Tap your temples. When worries have your mind in a stress loop, try this: Turn on a cheerful song, rest your elbows on a table, and gently tap your temples to the beat for two minutes. It sounds strange, but Australian scientists found this unique type of tapping (known as EFT or emotional freedom technique) reconnects the mind and body, calming the brain and lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 37 percent. Meanwhile, Canadian research suggests hearing a song you love as you tap works as well as anti-anxiety drugs at lowering stress.

To feel less overwhelmed…

Sniff a bar of soap. Swamped by a big to-do list? Grab a bar of soap and take 10 deep sniffs. Doing so calms a racing mind as well as medication, suggests Japanese research. Experts say 90 percent of soaps are infused with a natural scent compound called linalool, which studies found promotes relaxing, sedative effects. To ensure yours is packed with calming fragrance, opt for a scent like lavender, which is naturally high in linalool.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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