How to cope with stress: Six scientifically proven ways to help you relax when work's getting on top of you

Sarah Spickernell
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Sometimes, work can just get too much (Source: Getty)

>When work gets too intense, it becomes hard to unwind. Even during the quiet moments, you can end up feeling constantly preoccupied with that ever-growing to-do list waiting for you at the office, even though you know getting stressed about it won't solve any problems.
But science has provided ways to help calm your nerves - and many of them are quick and easy to do.
1. Go for a brisk stroll at lunch time
The endorphin rush you experience when doing any form of exercise, even if it isn't especially vigorous, has been shown to relieve stress in multiple research studies. It makes you feel happy and distracts you from your daily worries.
Even if you're not much of a walker, this is easy to do – you could always just pick a sandwich place slightly further down the road.
2. Meditate
Meditation can bring feelings of peace and calm, clearing the mind of the information clogging it up and in doing so relieve it of stress.
The relaxed feelings don't stop when meditation stops, either – the feelings of calm can last for a whole day and have been shown to improve certain medical conditions, too.
Even meditating for ten minutes a day has been shown to help people de-stress.
3. Take a deep breath
Research has shown that slightly altering the way we breathe can improve health and reduce stress. Taking slow, deep breaths causes the heart rate and blood pressure to fall and makes us feel more relaxed.
One study showed that slower breathing boosted the parasympathetic nervous system – the one responsible for relaxation – and reduced the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system.
4. Hug someone
A friendly hug can work wonders when it comes to bringing down blood pressure and reducing stress. It does this by reducing heart rate and levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone” that is linked to depression.
In fact, frequent huggers have been shown to have a more positive outlook on health than those who rarely embrace. They often have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, which has been shown to potentially reduce stress and improve wellbeing.
You could always try hugging yourself if there's no one nearby - or if your boss is a little stern...
5. Go a step further and kiss them
This might not be so easy – but if you have someone there to kiss, make the most of it. There's nothing like a smooch to brighten up a hard day, according to research which suggests kissing releases chemicals that ease hormones associated with stress.
6. Get an office pet
Our furry friends are excellent antidotes to stress, and none more so than dogs. They have been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and research suggests that overall, dog-owners are less stressed than those of us without a canine companion.

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