[By Veronica Lane]
HAPPY “TEA” HOUR
Tea time is the new happy hour! Latest studies from University College London show that black tea drinkers had lower levels of cortisol and were able to recover faster after a stressful event than those who drank a placebo brew. Nutrients in the tea may stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain that make us feel more at ease.
CHEW AWAY STRESS
Who knew? A stick of your favorite sugar-free gum can take the bite out of a bad day. Research in the journal Appetite shows gum chewers are more focused, less anxious and have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than their gumless counterparts. The act of chewing stimulates blood flow to the brain—making us feel more alert—and makes us think of pleasant social situations such as meal times, distracting us from worries.
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE
Panicked, stressed or simply tensed? Laugh it off with your favorite YouTube video. Laughter or simply anticipating laughter is enough to reduce cortisol levels by nearly half, according to research from Loma Linda University in California. Like exercise, laughter reduces levels of cholesterol and cortisol and increases levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine.
COLOUR ME HAPPY
Let your creative juices flow. Keep a few colored markers or pencils at your desk for a quick art therapy fix. Drawing objects or a place that makes us feel safe and happy reduces anxiety and improves mood, research published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association finds.
BREATHE TO CALM DOWN
We all know fresh air makes us feel good, but when we are pressed for time, a quick peer out the window or peep at a photo of the great outdoors can help calm our nerves and increase happiness, according to a study from Chonnam National University in South Korea. Viewing nature scenes, such as mountains or forests, activates areas of the brain associated with happiness and positive memories. The longer you look, the bigger the rewards, so let yourself daydream.