Seven science-based strategies to help with stress

26 Jan 2022 02:42pm
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Stress is a natural emotion as our body responds to pressure of not being able to cope with certain situations.

Our body tends to transform into a fight-or-flight mechanism when it is being possessed with challenges.

Although it is common, it can lead to chronic out-turns if it is not being taken care of.

According to an article by Washington Post, a director of the Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute and an adjunct professor of psychology at Georgetown University, Jelena Kecmanovic said she has observed the extraordinary levels of stress and anxiety of her patients start to ease only for it to be go back into anger and despair due to insurgency of the coronavirus cases.

The whole uncertain situation related to coping with the new norms of Covid-19 has caused many people to feel overwhelmed and stressed, resulting them into finding outlets to channel their frustrations that have been piled up inside their head.

The medically proven cliche strategies to cope with stress such as exercising, get a solid 8 hours of sleep, socializing, being mindful and staying positive as well are retaining self-compassion can definitely be a huge help however, people are now seeking for practical solutions that works then and there.

Here are six immediate solutions to keep your emotions at bay throughout the day when you’re under stress:


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How exactly can we stimulate our mammalian dive reflex?

The reflex can be activated by holding your breath in cold water to slow down the heart rate and redirect the blood towards the heart and other vital organs.

It can be done with a bowl of icy water and submerge the face into the ice-cold water according to the tolerance level of the individuals.

“Stay like this as long as you can tolerate it. We typically recommend 15 to 30 seconds, although I’ve observed the effect much faster,” said Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist in Beverly Hills and the author of “End Emotional Eating.

However, the strategy is not made for everyone as people with heart problems, low-blood pressure and eating disorders should seek doctor’s advice and perspectives before attempting the strategy.


A quick distraction can help to reset your mind as our brain tends to be diverting the attention towards negativity when we are under pressure.

Trying to run away from your feelings and escape into the domains of temporary solutions such as watching movies, playing video games and consuming alcohol will only put you in more distress than you already are in the long-run.

That is why it is important to take psychological breaks to gain courage to take the next step in overcoming stress.

"Chew on a hot pepper, listen to loud music, hold ice cubes in your hands or smell a pungent cheese to briefly shift your attention away from stress. Alternatively, you can “make an alphabetical list of car models, flowers, colors, or create a mental top 10 list of your favorite movies, novels or places,” Taitz said.


We are all aware that nature provides cooling ambience and relaxation to the mind but did you know that art and computer images that mimic certain natural patterns can have a similar effect?

Fractals, or geometrical figures, seem to have a positive effect on the human eye as it has been found they're able to reduce physical signs of acute stress.

The complexity and the imperfection of the designs somehow manage to stop the voices trapped inside a stressed person.

“Everything you see in nature has some imperfection and a dose of imperfection is calming, like in Japanese wabi-sabi,” Branka Spehar, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia said.

Therefore, it is highly advisable for people to start spending time in nature to reduce stress as well as looking at the imperfect fractals that mimic natural effects.


Stopping the spiral of bad thoughts can be done by changing the way you talk to yourself.

According to Ethan Kross, professor of psychology as well as management and organizations at the University of Michigan and the author of “Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, he said using third-person pronouns in referring to yourself helps to disconnect you with the current situation that you are in.

Studies show that talking to yourself can actually help to reduce stress, although oftentimes it looks silly.

“Your perspective shifts from being overwhelmed to seeing the problem as a challenge, from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can.” he said.


Chewing gum functions as a stress buster as it reduces muscular tension and it was found to be effective in providing a calming effect through scientific research as early as 1939.

A research was conducted to investigate the relationship between chewing gum and reducing stress and they found out that there was an increased vigilance, a lower level of anxiety, a decrease in the experience of stress and a lower elevation of cortisol levels among the participants when they were chewing gum.


Have you heard of the saying “You are what you think”?

It is a famous saying to indicate how powerful thoughts can be and it is not hard to act the way you feel.

Thoughts and emotions are often related to one another and it is definitely visible through facial expression.

However, it is not the right way to combat stress as it will only make you feel pressured even more.

So, what you need to do is act differently from your emotions by changing your postures and facial expressions. For example, smiling and speaking in a soft tone.

The method is proven by the researcher as they called it ‘opposite action’.

A dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at George Washington University, Eric Finzi said that the information of facial expression will travel to the brain through cranial nerves that are connected to the facial muscles.

“This happens without conscious awareness. For example, when you see a snake, your face shows a fearful expression in 40 milliseconds, before you become consciously aware of your fear.” he said.


Yawning was found to have a brain-cooling function in vertebrates, according to a research led by Andrew C. Gallup, associate professor of psychology at SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

“And yawning naturally occurs before and during stressful situations, promoting relaxation and better cognitive functioning. It has nothing to do with boredom.” Gallup said.

Yawning is said to be one of our brain’s ways in reacting to temperature rise during stress and anxiety.