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Time To De-Stress!

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    Take Up a Little Gardening! Caregiving is extremely stressful, but a 2008 survey showed that gardening may help to reduce stress among caregivers. The survey, by BHG.com, showed that 60 percent of caregivers feel relaxed when they garden, the Alzheimer's Association reported. And, Health.com reported on a Netherlands study, suggesting that gardening can help to lower cortisol levels and boost mood among people who had just finished a stressful task. That's because doing something that requires "involuntary attention" -- like sitting back and enjoying nature -- helps to replenish ourselves, Health.com reported.
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    Even if she's not there in person, a call to mom can help lower stress. Scientific American reported on a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B showing that young girls who talked to their mothers on the phone after completing stressful tasks had decreased cortisol (the stress hormone) in their saliva, and increased oxytocin levels (the bonding hormone). Call MOM! The girls who talked to their mothers on the phone had decreased cortisol and increased oxytocin levels compared with young girls who weren't allowed to contact their mothers at all, Scientific American reported -- girls who hugged their moms in person had a similar reaction to the phone group.
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    Eat Some Chocolate! Dark chocolate doesn't only have health benefits for the heart -- eating it can also help to lower stress. LiveScience reported on a study illustrating that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day for a two-week period is linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. That study was published in 2009 in the journal Proteome Research. (But of course, chocolate still contains sugar and lots of calories, so make sure you're eating the chocolate in moderation!)
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    Read for a few minutes! Just six minutes of reading is enough to help you de-stress, the Telegraph reported. The study, which was sponsored by Galaxy chocolate, suggested that reading was linked with a slower heart rate and muscle relaxation. Drinking tea or coffee, listening to music and taking a walk also seemed to help lower stress, according to the Telegraph.
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    LAUGH! If you're feeling particularly stressed, perhaps it's time to take a quick YouTube break. A small 1989 study in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences showed that "mirthful laughter" is linked with lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The Mayo Clinic reported that laughter also promotes endorphin
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    Bring your dog to work! A recent study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that bringing your dog to work could help to lower office stress and boost employee satisfaction. "Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support," study researcher Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., a professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement. "Of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace." The study, which looked at the pet-friendly company Replacements, Ltd., showed that employees who brought their dogs in to work experienced decreases in stress throughout the work day. Meanwhile, self-reported stress increased for people who didn't bring their dogs, and for those who don't have dogs.