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Stress-Proof Yourself: Tips to Unleash Your Inner Zen


September 18, 2023

Do you have much to do and not enough time to do it? Or a job that keeps you “on” almost 24/7? It seems we’re all looking for ways to beat stress. (Or at least, we should be. There are many reasons why doctors and researchers call stress “the silent killer.”) 

The research-backed tips below are a good start to help prevent stress from getting the best of you. And they’re all simple enough to work into your schedule right now!

7 Ways to Beat Stress + The Science Behind Them

Stress isn’t just a subjective feeling in your mind but a physiological response in the body. These science-backed ways to beat stress have been shown to reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol or improve the body’s ability to manage stress through other pathways. Try one or try them all to help stress melt away!

1. Turn on some tunes

Listening to music can reduce stress in daily life according to research. Anyone who has ever put on an album to relax already knows this, but now the science backs it up. Studies have found that music can affect both perceived stress and physiological markers for stress, such as activity in the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, blood pressure, and heart rate.

What kind of music is best for stress reduction? The research doesn’t say, but listening with the express purpose of relaxing seems to make a difference. So pick out tunes that help you chill, whatever the genre.

2. Calm your mind by getting artsy

Research shows that engaging in the creative arts can lower stress. But unless shopping is your stress-buster of choice, having to get everything you need to begin your art journey could be a speed bump that keeps you from diving into a new craft. Craft kits to the rescue! 

Cratejoy gathers all kinds of fun and trendy delivery boxes in one place. The Inky Box Monthly will help you try your hand at calligraphy. Or explore a new artistic pursuit every month with The Craft and Tea Box. You’ll not only get craft supplies and instructions for projects from mandalas to macrame, but you’ll also receive a sampling of loose-leaf tea (enough for 15-20 cups) you can sip while you’re crafting. 

3. Pour the tea

Speaking of tea, did you know that simply drinking tea can help your body fight stress? The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant polyphenols in tea made from Camellia sinensis (like green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) protect the brain and body from free radicals and inflammation. Green tea in particular reduces psychological and physiological stress responses due to the presence of the amino acid L-Theanine. 

Find a huge variety of tea at Republic of Tea, including green tea, black tea, herbal tea, decaf tea, high caffeine tea, and so much more. Make a cup of The People’s Green Tea part of your daily routine to reap the benefits of green tea, or try Organic Assam Breakfast Black Tea if you prefer a darker, stronger cup.

4. Stay in the present

Mindfulness is the simple yet powerful practice of keeping the mind in the present moment. Physiologically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce serum cortisol levels. Psychologically, mindfulness values an observant, nonjudgmental mindset that helps people learn to react purposefully rather than reflexively and to worry about the future less.

You don’t need any fancy equipment to practice mindfulness. (You can even practice mindfulness while you meditate in bed!) But anyone, especially beginners, can benefit from guided mindfulness meditation tracks to take away the fear of “not doing it right.” That’s the beauty of, an app with 2,000+ resources including daily videos and guided audio meditations that teach mindful living. It’s an easy, stress-free way to make mindfulness a part of your daily life.

5. Sleep longer and deeper

Sleep and stress are closely intertwined. Higher levels of stress negatively affect sleep, while bad sleep makes stress worse, and the cycle continues. Even one night of partial sleep loss affects circadian rhythms and increases cortisol levels the following night, and research in rodents points to long-term changes in the brain and neuroendocrine systems after chronic sleep loss and sleep deprivation that could be similar in humans.

In short – get better sleep to reduce your stress and reduce your stress to get better sleep! Improving your sleep space is a great step toward better quality, higher quantity sleep. Half Price Drapes offers blackout curtains that not only block out light but noise, too, creating an environment more conducive to restful sleep. Then slip into bed and cozy up with a weighted blanket, like this cooling weighted blanket for hot sleepers from Gravity Blankets.

6. Get the blood pumping  

Exercise is a magic elixir. It can improve strength, balance, endurance, and energy, lift mood, help keep your brain sharp, and so much more. Physical activity is associated with reduced cortisol levels and improved sleep outcomes, too. All types of exercise are beneficial, but aerobic exercise – including all kinds of dance – may be better at reducing cortisol than strength training. So get moving!

Orangetheory Fitness is a hugely popular group fitness studio with over 1,300 locations. Get an incredible workout using heart-rate-based interval training that burns calories and improves fitness. Membership includes access to studios nationwide and easy online booking. No Orangetheory near you? Then jump on a bike instead and get that heart pumping! Huffy offers well-made bikes for the whole family at great prices.

7. Get social to stay resilient  

Research going back decades shows that people with strong social ties live longer and enjoy better health, possibly in part due to the Stress-Buffering Hypothesis. This hypothesis posits that people with a strong support system are “buffered” against the stressors of life through better regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and the sympathetic-adreno-medullar (SAM) axis. Whatever the mechanisms, science shows that building strong social ties in your community and spending time with loved ones is good for your health.

If finding people with similar interests to hang out with proves challenging, consider turning to Meetup. Meetup is a website and app that makes it super easy to find and join groups for stuff you’re into. Whether your thing is hiking, painting, board games, or photography, you can search for meetup groups in your area that get together regularly to do that activity. It’s a great way to meet new people who share your interests! And if you can’t find the perfect group for you, you can start one of your own!

Erin Danly is a freelance writer whose work focuses on marketing content and verbal branding for B2B and B2C clients. Before turning to writing, she was a pastry chef and a psychology lab manager at Columbia University. Erin lives with her family in Mt. Pleasant, SC.