Read on for six smart new strategies to start de-stressing now.
By Daryn Eller, Prevention
If deep breaths, weekly yoga classes, and venting to your friends aren’t helping you relax, you have plenty of company—and it’s not your fault. New studies show that these supposedly tried-and-true anxiety busters are often just… well, a bust. Read on for the surprising truth about what really helps—and what doesn’t—when it comes to relieving chronically fried nerves.
Yesterday’s Wisdom: Never go to bed angry.
Today’s Smart Strategy: Just get some sleep already!
When you’re mid-dustup and about to wring your husband’s neck, the last thing you feel like doing is curling up in bed beside him. But deep down, many of us worry that going to bed angry just tempts fate. So we bargain, cajole, and then fight some more in an effort to resolve the dispute, thinking all will be well by the morning if we can just reach a resolution. The fact is, forcing a discussion by bedtime can actually make things worse, says Andrea K. Wittenborn, PhD, an assistant professor in the marriage and family therapy program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. When you’re upset, a part of the brain called the amygdala cues the fight-or-f light response, limiting your ability to have a calm, rational discussion. So it’s a good idea to hold off on any showdown until you cool off.
“Taking a time-out or even a night off is critical, because once you’ve activated the fight-or-flight system, you can’t simply tell it to turn off,” says Ronald Potter-Efron, PhD, author of Rage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Explosive Anger. “If you’re already angry or frustrated, you become emotionally flooded and unable to think clearly.” Plus, sleep is a powerful antidote to stress, says Russell Rosenberg, PhD, director of the Atlanta Sleep Medicine Clinic and vice chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. Instead, agree to call a truce until morning, and make sure to actually talk things out the next day. “Completely dropping issues that really bug you can be damaging to your relationship and contribute to increased stress,” warns Dr. Wittenborn.