From work challenges to family pressures, avoiding life’s stresses can seem impossible. However, too much stress is toxic to the body. It raises blood pressure, reduces immunity and sex drive, and causes headaches, heartburn, depression, and other health complaints. With excess stress impacting our physical and mental health in so many ways, controlling stress is vital. If you’ve tried traditional approaches without success, try these unconventional stress-busters.

Get Creative With an Adult Coloring Book

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Adult coloring books are topping bestseller lists around the world and encouraging grownups to reach for their crayons. More than just a fun way to pass the time, coloring in an adult coloring book can be an effective stress reliever. A study from Lake Superior State University found college students had lower signs of stress and depression after coloring pre-drawn patterns, like those found in adult coloring books. The act of coloring also takes adults back to childhood, typically a simpler time with fewer stresses.

Start Smiling

When you’re under stress, there may be few things to smile about. But scientific evidence suggests it’s worth faking it until you make it.

“When you smile, you are engaging your face, and that is wired to the rest of your brain,” explained Dr. Philip Muskin, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “If your face is forcing your brain to think it’s happy, then you feel somewhat better.”

So slap on that grin, even if you feel like screaming!

Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

You might think your noisy neighbors and demanding boss are causing you stress, but what if there’s another culprit? Caffeine elevates the level of cortisol in the body, just like stress does. If you have a lot of caffeine through multiple cups of coffee, cola, and energy drinks, your body will feel like it does when it’s under stress. Just like stress, excess caffeine consumption can also keep you awake at night, make you put on weight, and trigger depression and fatigue.

If traditional stress relievers aren’t working, reducing or even eliminating your caffeine impact could be the solution. Switch to decaf coffee and herbal tea to curb the cravings.

Try Holistic Health Solutions

Conventional health solutions target specific symptoms without considering the big picture. Holistic health is different because it looks at you as an individual and how you can make your whole body and mind feel better. When you treat stress holistically, you identify the stressors in your life and develop a plan for how to deal with them. You might find ways to avoid or limit exposure to stressors, adjust your attitude towards them, or find other strategies to cope with them like acupuncture, counseling, and taking vitamins or herbal remedies.

There’s no magic pill for stress relief. What worked for your partner or friend isn’t guaranteed to benefit you. While traditional stress relievers have their merits, don’t be afraid to try an unconventional solution to get your stress levels in check.

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