When things get harried, follow these strategies to calm down.
woman painting a bowl
Credit: Getty Images / mixetto

When things get harried, follow these strategies to calm down.

We all get stressed out from time to time. But it's not good for our health to be chronically stressed out. Stress can make us crave high-sugar foods and slows down our metabolism. Plus, the hormone cortisol increases when we're stressed, which causes us to store more belly fat.

Enjoy Chocolate

No one has to tell us twice! Adults who sipped a chocolate drink containing 500 mg of polyphenols (antioxidants naturally abundant in chocolate) daily for a month felt calmer than those who drank cocoa with no polyphenols, found Australian researchers. The antioxidants may help regulate neurotransmitters that keep your mood on an even keel. Get this dose from about 1 ounce of dark chocolate.

Get Artsy

Tap into your inner artist. About three-quarters of adult subjects who created art for 45 minutes (using materials like clay or markers) experienced a drop in cortisol, the hormone that increases when you're stressed, found Drexel University researchers. And you don't have to be ­Picasso to reap the benefits-it works at any skill level. So throw pots, paint with watercolors, craft, or even doodle during your train commute.

Log Off

You might struggle to resist the ping of a new email, but you'll feel better letting it go unread for a bit. When workers checked email about five times a day, they had less daily stress compared to those with unlimited inbox access, according to a 2015 study out of the University of British Columbia. To avoid the temptation: "Keep your email box closed when possible and switch off email notifications," says study co-­author Kostadin Kushlev, Ph.D.

March/April 2017