Finding it hard to quiet your mind? You're not alone. According to a recent study, more than half of women report feeling on-edge at least four days per week. But fear not, our experts are here share six easy ways to soothe frazzled nerves and feel in control again fast!
Stress often starts as a kernel of a negative thought, observes anxiety expert Friedemann Schaub, M.D., Ph.D., who promises it’s easy to flip the mental script and usher in calm. “If you find yourself thinking, I can’t handle this work assignment, for example, just turn it into a question: Can I do this? You’ll often realize the answer is yes. Simply questioning your thoughts instead of accepting them as facts lets you see possibilities, helping you feel less overwhelmed.” In fact, questioning defeatist self-talk five times a day for two weeks is shown to reduce stress by 80%!
Take Three Minutes
Mindfulness sparks activity in the insula, a brain region involved in acceptance, reveals psychiatrist Lauren M. Osborne, M.D., who recommends a “three-minute breathing space” to cue calm quickly.
TRY IT: For the first minute, just focus on the moment. In the second, breathe normally and concentrate on each breath; finally, in the third, feel your whole body relax. Says Dr. Osborne, “Practicing breathing exercises daily for eight weeks is proven to dial down tension significantly.”
Go for “Green Therapy”
“Moderate exercise like walking soothes anxiety by triggering an anti-inflammatory response that cuts cortisol levels”, explains Dr. Osborne. To “step up” the benefit, walk barefoot on cool grass. Research shows it reduces stress by 60%, thanks to nerves on the soles of your feet, which send signals of serenity up your body, unleashing relaxing alpha brain waves.
Massage Your Ears
Turns out, one of the smallest body parts holds the key to taming physical tension, notes Dr. Schaub. “Your ears are like a map of your body, with acupressure points that can relax you from head to toe”, he explains. The proof: Chinese researchers found that gently massaging your ears for just one minute a day helps release feel-good endorphins that melt stress and ease the aches associated with tensing up.
Dine like a bella donna
“Enjoying more foods associated with the Mediterranean diet soothes frayed nerves”, promises nutritionist Trudy Scott, C.N. In fact, filling up on fish, beans, fruit, vegetables and olive oil enhances well-being by 69%, according to research at Binghamton University in New York. And in another study, folks who ate a Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks saw their anxiety ease and energy levels improve dramatically. Notes Scott, “The exciting thing about this study is that 33% of the participants felt less stressed just by eating staples of the Mediterranean diet, without any other dietary restrictions!”
Sip passionflower tea
You can wire your brain for calm, assures Dr. Osborne. “The neurotransmitter GABA curbs anxiety and prepares your body for sleep”, she says. A summer- perfect way to boost it? Sip iced passionflower tea. Its ingredients promote GABA production, helping you relax and fall into a soothing slumber 20 minutes faster!
TRY IT: $10.99, Amazon
This story originally appeared in our print magazine