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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, April 19, 2024

Stress-less: Tips to reduce your everyday stress

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As the leaves begin to change and the word “midterm” begins to be synonymous with “Monday” instead of “next month,” it feels appropriate to address the collective feelings of stress and anxiety rising around campus.

Whether your current preferred method of dealing with stress is locking yourself in the Hirsh Reading Room chugging Celsius drinks, or choosing to ignore the ever-looming assignments ahead of you, here are some scientifically backed practices that can help lower cortisol levels and foster a more calm and collected state.

  1. Put the phone down first thing in the morning.

The most tempting feeling upon waking up is often to reach over, grab your phone and scroll. And while this habit feels like a way to relax before you start your day, science shows it could be just the opposite.

According to psychologist Jay Rai, going on your phone directly after waking up force[s] your body to skip the important theta and alpha stages and go straight from the delta stage to being wide awake and alert,” setting yourself up to be prone to distraction.

This habit may worsen feelings of stress since reading something negative can also trigger a lasting stress response throughout the day

So, instead of waking up and going straight to your notifications, give your body time to adjust without scrolling. Starting the morning off right sets the tone for a productive, less stressed day.

  1. Don’t skip breakfast, and prioritize protein.

As tempting as it may be to roll out of bed before 9 a.m., research studies on women and Spanish adolescents have linked eating breakfast to lower levels of cortisol production, the stress hormone.

Ensuring a high-quality breakfast can lead to a more mellow day. Research revealed that a higher-quality breakfast caused lower levels of stress and depression than participants who ate a poor breakfast.

A good breakfast means prioritizing whole grains and high-quality proteins like eggs, which University of Texas clinical dietician Kathryn Munder calls “nature’s multivitamin,” because eggs are “packed with nutrients that play a role in regulating your body's stress response.”

  1. Keep track of your caffeine.

As a caffeine addict myself, this one is a hard pill to swallow. Still, instead of going cold turkey, setting limits for how many caffeinated drinks you consume is a more reasonable way to limit their effect on your nervous system. Drinking too much caffeine is linked to anxiety and insomnia, so keeping it under 400 milligrams is recommended for most adults. 

  1. Get some sun.

Studies have shown a positive association between sunlight exposure and increased mental health and sleep benefits. UCLA Health Dr. Robert Ashley states that on sunnier days, even just eight to 10 minutes of sunlight can supply a sufficient dose of daily vitamin D — so, get outside! Going for a quick walk or sitting out in the sun, especially in the morning, can do more good than you think.