Do you crave food, even though you're not hungry? Is your heart racing? Are you snapping at the people you care about most? These are all signs that you've crossed over from the good side of stress to the bad, says life coach Ruth Klein. Four strategies to release the pressure:
1. Phone a friend. Strange as it may sound, stress can increase production of the hormone oxytocin, which helps you connect with others. One theory is that a blast of oxytocin provides a kind of coping mechanism, helping to convert stressful experiences into opportunities for social bonding, which research shows can lower cortisol levels.
2. Take a whiff of lavender. In 2008 Japanese researchers reported that the aroma reduces stress levels in people forced to do tough math problems. Keep a small bottle of lavender oil or lotion in your purse for when you're feeling overwhelmed.
3. Sip black tea. University College London scientists found that black-tea drinkers had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event than those who consumed other hot beverages.
4. Get some distance. When you're slammed with something really stressful—a huge work deadline, an unexpected visit from the in-laws—don't panic. Instead, pretend you've been asked to advise a friend or family member in need, and think through the problem systematically, says Carol J. Scott, MD. "When women distance themselves slightly from stressors, they make excellent problem solvers, in part because of their unique mixture of creative, intuitive, and analytical thinking skills."
More stress relief: Get Dr. Oz's top 7 ways to stay calm
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