Stress Relief in 4 Ways

Pets, Nature, Sleep and Thinking of Loved Ones

The Basics

WHAT: Pets, nature, sleep and thinking of loved ones is proven stress relief natural medicine.

SOURCE: Study from the University of Arizona, Washington State University, and the University of California Berkeley.

GREAT FOR: Relief From Stress & Anxiety, Self-Help


Stress is a part of life. But too much of it can do significant harm to our physical and emotional well-being

Simply taking a few minutes to be present with the people and places around us, or making ever-so-slight changes to our daily routines, can have a dramatic impact on how our bodies and minds respond to stress. 

Thinking of someone you love can do miracles for your stress levels

The study by University of Arizona psychologists discovered that when it comes to managing the body’s cardiovascular response to stressful situations, visualizing your significant other may be just as effective as having them in the room with you for keeping your blood pressure in check. 

Stress away in contact with pet 

2019 study showed the stress-busting powers of a pet are even stronger than we originally thought. Scientists at Washington State University decided to test how exposure to cats and dogs — specifically being able to pet them — impacts stress hormones among college students.

“We already knew that students enjoy interacting with animals and that it helps them experience more positive emotions. What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way,” Patricia Pendry, Ph.D., an associate professor in Washington State University’s department of human development, told Science DailyThe result: Students who interacted with pets for just 10 minutes showed a reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol. 

Contact with nature can lower stress hormones

Taking a walk through the woods or escaping to the sea isn’t always realistic in our everyday stressed-out moments — like at work.

There are a few constraints to minimize factors known to influence stress: take the nature walk in daylight, no aerobic exercise, and avoid the use of social media, the internet, phone calls, conversations. The study shows that a 20-minute nature experience was enough to lower participants’ cortisol levels, and 30 minutes or more caused the levels to drop at their greatest rate.

Sleep can do wonders for calming your anxiety

All it takes is one night of bad, restless sleep to put your emotions on high the next day. 

One stage of sleep that’s been of particular interest for researchers this year is called deep sleep (Quick science lesson: Sleep is divided into periods of REM sleep, characterized by rapid eyeball movements and dreaming, and longer periods of non-REM sleep.).

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that the type of sleep most likely to calm a stressed-out, anxious brain is the latter: “We have identified a new function of a deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain,” said Matthew Walker, one of the study authors and a U.C. Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology. 

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