If you’re feeling stressed about a big presentation you’re scheduled to give at work, try sharing your fears with a co-worker. Stressed about making it through your new kickboxing class? Talk about it with a classmate. Anxious about your teen getting behind the wheel? Express your anxiety to another teen parent.
Notice a similarity? A new study by University of Southern California researchers found that stress decreases when you share your feelings with others … but not just anyone. The key is to share your emotions with someone in a similar emotional state.
For the study, women had to prepare and give a speech, but before doing so they were able to discuss their feelings about it with a fellow study participant. Those who talked with someone experiencing similar emotions reported lower stress and also had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The study’s lead author noted that this trick may be especially useful for buffering stress at work (although it would work for virtually any stressful situation), noting:
“For instance, when you’re putting together an important presentation or working on a high-stakes project, these are situations that can be threatening and you may experience heightened stress. But talking with a colleague who shares your emotional state can help decrease this stress.”
To put it simply, if you’re stressed make it a point to share your emotions with someone who is similarly anxious, ideally about the same issue. You’ll probably both benefit!
Natural Stress Relief: 6 More Ways
Looking for even more stress busters? Try:
- Laughter: It provides a physical release for tension while distracting you from your problems, helping you put them into perspective. Laughing has even been proven to induce positive emotions and encourage optimistic feelings.
- Yoga: This mind-body exercise may reduce stress and anxiety while enhancing overall well-being and quality of life.
- Eating chocolate: Dark chocolate in particular may help lower stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines, leaving you less anxious and stressed.
- Cuddling with your pet: One study found people had a lower stress response when they performed a challenging task with their pets present than they did with their best friend or spouse!
- Reiki: This gentle, energy healing technique works by helping to clear the negative energies that are blocking the flow of your vital life force energy, providing relaxation and stress relief.
- Ginseng: This age-old plant well known for its ability to stimulate your central nervous system may help the body adapt to stress.
Social Psychological & Personality Science