5 Alternative Stress Relievers
Although some of these suggestions may be old hat to some readers, they are worth another try to maintain that acupuncture "buzz" between visits:
1. Pet a puppy. Or full grown dog, either will work. Owning a dog has been proven to reduce stress levels and keep high blood pressure in check. If you've ever held a puppy you can literally feel your heart rate slow down. Don't have one? San Antonio Pets Alive and Austin Pets Alive both take volunteers! You can walk the shelter dogs, or, get this--watch over the puppies in the puppy area. Hello, oxytocin! Sign me up. (To volunteer in San Antonio click here. For Austin, click here. )
2. Take your Vitamin C. Of course, this isn't an instantaneous fix, but keeping a good amount of Vitamin C in your system helps to reduce cortisol levels. The daily recommended amount varies according to age, so here is a link to how much you should be taking.
3. Take a Cardio Dance class at your local gym--This one is sort of specific, I know, but I did this last week and I've never laughed so hard while exercising. Endorphins are great stress relievers, of course, but so is laughing in general (see #4!).
4. Laugh. Seriously. Try anything that will make you laugh! Actually, there has been research done into "Medical Clowning" (I swear I'm not making this up) and in one study women who had a clown come perform for them right after an IVF procedure were over two times as likely for it to work. So, since we can't have a clown follow us around to de-stress continually (and honestly, most of us find clowns somewhat creepy, yes?) -- watch funny television shows, go see a funny film. Don't watch anything dark or graphically violent -- it can vicariously cause you to be depressed, even if it's fiction. Speaking of, try not to watch the news if you are currently in a stressed state -- don't worry, there will be more (usually bad) news in the future. But for now, just LAUGH.
5. Smile. Even when you don't mean it. How annoying is it when people tell you to smile when you just don't have anything to smile about? I'll tell you: SUPER annoying. But, these same annoying people may have a point: even if you are "fake" smiling, the muscles in your face "tell" your brain that you are happy, and then... more happiness! So plaster on a fake grin until the rest of you catches up.
P.S. Just in case you thought I was making up the Medical Clowning thing!