by Leyla Gulcur, Ph.D. Health and Wellness Expert at Tournesol Wellness Center and Practical Pleasure Therapeutic Coach
There is so much stress going around. Maybe you’re living in a crowded city with snarled traffic and packed subways. Maybe you’re worried about making enough money. Maybe you have to juggle the demands of a job, relationship, or family.
But, you’re not alone. Nearly everyone experiences stress at some time. In fact, 49 percent of Americans report experiencing a major stressful event in the past year. While some amount of stress is healthy, excessive stress increases our risk for a wide range of illnesses including asthma, obesity, lowered immunity, heart attacks, gastrointestinal problems, depression, and anxiety.
The good news is: pleasure is an antidote to stress. Indeed, studies show that pleasure lowers our stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate, strengthens our immune system, and releases feel-good chemicals that combat anxiety and depression. And the best news is that pleasure feels good, by creating changes both in our brains and our bodies! The first step is to feed our sensual side, by engaging in activities that nourish our senses. Try these 8 tricks to find pleasure every day.
1. Touch someone. Hug a friend, or cuddle with your partner. Studies show that touch releases the “feel good” love hormone oxytocin, which plays a major role in bonding, empathy, and trust.
2. Hang with animals. Or, get a dog or cat. Pet owners are less stressed out—most likely thanks to having a buddy to cuddle with.
3. Get a massage. A hospital study found that after just one massage session, participants experienced a significant reduction in cortisol, and an increase in immune function. Massage also improves mood, and eases depression and anxiety.
4. Kiss or make love. Research suggests kissing also releases chemicals that reduce cortisol. And (surprise, surprise), studies show that sex can also decrease cortisol and lower blood
5. Taste something good. Stress messes with your sense of taste. Find a food or drink you like (my personal favorite is dark chocolate and kumquats). Put in a bowl and sit on your favorite couch. Put a morsel in your mouth. Savor the texture and taste of each bite. Find your tension draining away.
6. Give your nostrils a thrill. Studies suggest aromatherapy can also relieve stress and enhance health. Certain aromas (like lavender) are shown to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels.
7. Take a dance break. Go into your office bathroom stall, put on your headphones and favorite song, and dance your stress away. Research shows that music calms your brainwaves and lowers your heart rate.
8. Laugh or smile. Laughter reduces the physical effects of stress on the body, and makes your immune system stronger. Moreover, engaging the “smile muscles” can change your mood.
The evidence is clear: the simple act of nourishing our senses is an immediate way to bring more pleasure and good health into our lives in an easy way.
Your Wellness Tip To-Go:
As you begin to find pleasure and happiness in every day you will start to experience more and more gratitude. Celebrate that attitude of gratitude with us!