7 unexpected ways to deal with stress

Sure, you could use tried-and-tested techniques to destress – but these more unusual methods can be just as effective, say scientists.

It’s a very rare person who doesn’t encounter stress in their life.

From work to running a household and looking after kids or staying on top of modern life, the list of things that can leave us feeling stressed is lengthy.

We all know of common stress-relievers including meditation and yoga, but what about the lesser known ways to bring on feelings of calm?

Here are a few scientifically backed methods to destress – and they’re not what you’d expect.

Smell your partner’s T-shirt

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that women who smelled an item of clothing with their partner’s scent right before a high-stress situation were found to have lower cortisol levels.

Just maybe don’t attempt this with a shirt that’s been sitting on the floor for a few days…

Wash the dishes

It’s not high on our list of ways to relax, but it turns out doing the dishes is a great stress-reliever.

Research from Florida State University has discovered that mindfully washing the dishes (this involves focusing on things such as the scent of the dishwashing liquid and the feeling of the water) can calm the mind and leave you feeling less stressed.

Get arty

If you’re the creative type then it might be worth getting in touch with your artistic side.

A study found that after 45 minutes of doing free-form art using clay, paper, markers, glue and scissors, participants’ cortisol levels reduced by 75 per cent.

Exercise with other people

If you don’t have one already, maybe it’s time to consider getting an exercise buddy.

US researchers found that training in a group situation reduced the stress levels of their study’s participants by 26 per cent, while those who worked out alone experienced no significant changes.

Eat a piece of dark chocolate

As if we needed further proof of the greatness of chocolate.

A study found that eating dark chocolate that contains more than 70 per cent cacao has been shown to reduce stress levels and inflammation.

Chew gum

We usually look to chewing gum as a way to freshen our breath but it could also refresh your state of mind.

A Swinburne University study found that cortisol levels in the saliva of those who chewed gum were reduced by 16 per cent during mild stress and almost 12 per cent in moderate stress, compared with those who didn’t chew gum.

Look at an aquarium

A joint study by the University of Exeter, Plymouth University and the National Marine Aquarium in the UK found that watching aquariums and fish tanks can help bring on a positive effect to physical and mental wellbeing, including a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and an improvement in mood.

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Written by Tania Gomez.