When our ancient ancestors were chased by a lion, they had the same stress reaction as we have today to problems at work: heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, blood rushes to the muscles. This state mobilizes the body, but if we stay in it too long, it exhausts the body and the psyche and eventually leads to burnout and other problems.
To get out of it, you have to end the stress cycle - to signal the body that you can relax. Our ancestors produced endorphins themselves when they managed to escape or defeat a lion. But today this tactic doesn't work: you can't run away from deadlines, and you won't use physical force against a bad boss-at least we don't advise it. Safe, legal, and free ways to end the cycle of stress have been described by Emily and Amelia Nagoski in their book, Burnout - take your pick.
🏃 Physical activity.
The most effective way because it mimics the "hit or run" stress response. Any activity will do, from strength training to dancing to your favorite playlist. It usually takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
If a stressful situation catches you in a place where dancing or running won't work, you can just stand up, take a deep breath, tense all your muscles, after 20 seconds relax and shake your arms and legs
If you are moderately stressed or struggling with anxious thoughts, this method suits you best. You can just breathe deeply and exhale as if emptying your lungs, or you can periodically refer to the technique from the book. It will take you a minute and 15 seconds.
Slowly breathe in, counting to five, then detain breath on the same five accounts and smoothly exhale, counting to ten. Now count to five and do two more breaths
👋 Friendly communication.
Momentary but friendly communication with others is very important for our brain, it gives a signal: the world around is safe, you can relax. Wish a good day to the cashier, compliment your neighbor, or discuss the weather with him.
As studies show, it is the "weak social ties" that give feelings of happiness and emotional well-being. Even introverts.
Watch an old comedy or video of funny animals, or better yet, chat with friends. In her famous lecture, neuroscientist Sophie Scott tells us that laughter is an evolutionary mechanism to strengthen group bonds as well as regulate emotional levels. When a person laughs, they do a special breathing exercise. But for laughter to be relaxing, it must be sincere.
Don't hold yourself back if you want to cry: tears activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help you relax.
You can turn on your favorite melodrama, which is guaranteed to move you. When you experience the emotions of the characters, your brain perceives them as your own. As a result, the plot of the movie will take you through a full cycle of stress response
💋 Hugs and kisses.
Hugging someone with whom you have a warm and trusting relationship will get your body back on track as successfully as running away from a predator for a few miles. Just 20 seconds - and you'll change your hormonal background, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and your mood will rise.
If you have a romantic partner, the same effect can be achieved in a 6-second kiss
Pet owners often say that relationships with pets bring them more support than with anyone else. Petting your cat, even if it's not your own, will normalize your blood pressure. And if you or your friends have a dog to walk, you get a combined effect: physical activity in addition to love
Any kind of creativity, from sculpting to singing, creates the right environment to express and live out intense emotions, and thus safely pass the stress cycle. Allocate a half hour in your schedule for a creative hobby - you don't have to splurge, you can often find everything you need at home. The very next day, studies show, you'll feel more energetic