11 Bizarre Stress Relievers Taking the World by Storm
Last Updated: May 16, 2017
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There’s no doubt we’re living in stressful times. According to the American Psychological Association, as many as two-thirds of Americans are stressed about the future of our country. And between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall reported stress level of Americans rose from 4.8 to 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10. As a result, some unorthodox methods of stress relief are rising in popularity. Using Google Trends, these 11 are among the most bizarre we’ve found.
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Possibly the most bizarre of all of these stress-reduction trends is “otonamaki,” or swaddling. That’s when grown people lie on their backs (like infants), curl up their knees, get wrapped (as infants are) in white cloths and are rocked (kind of like infants, except your head is also wrapped). A Japanese midwife devised the technique to help new mothers ease stress and post-labor aches and pains.
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Japanese work culture is so intense and stressful, with many employees clocking more than 100 hours a week, that people have been dropping dead from overwork — or what is known in Japan as “karoshi.” While Japan is under great pressure to enforce some semblance of work-life balance, emotional escorts have become a thing. Launched by a company named Ikemeso Danshi, women hire hot guys (also known as Ikemesos) to meet them in their offices not for a little afternoon delight, but to watch slideshows of heart-melting videos and photos to induce a good cry. The escort’s big finish? Wiping his client’s tears. Sometimes it’s just what a girl really needs.
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Next time you’re stressed, see if “going for a float” beckons. Also known as submerging yourself in a sensory-deprivation tank, “floating” is fast catching on as a less conventional stress-reduction craze. Basically, floatation tanks are giant, sanitary bathtubs with lids that are filled with water and 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts. So when you get in and lie back, your body has no choice but to float. Many pipe soothing music into the tank and provide choices of funky lighting to go further in easing your frazzled nerves. According to the New York Times, floating was invented by behavioral scientist John C. Lilly in the 1950s. It may have taken this long to catch on — possibly because it’s a glorified bathtub — but devotees swear by it.
As we’ve recently reported, slime making has somehow gone from pre-K sensory development activity to tween/teen/adult stress-relief craze. YouTube instructional videos are earning hits into the millions — including specific kinds of slime, such as glittery, sparkly, “unicorn” slime. That’s because the act of playing with slime is a sensory experience that triggers an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), or “brain orgasm,” described by The Atlantic as a tingling inside the head, or “head rush.” There’s just one published research paper on the phenomenon, but the authors of the study are delving deeper into their research, examining the effects of ASMR on studying and learning.
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ADULT COLORING BOOKS
You can’t walk into a major book retailer without noticing a vast array of adult coloring books that address various stress-reduction philosophies that range from the obvious (“Color Me Stress-Free”) to the irreverent (“Calm the F* Down”). Science actually supports mindfulness-based art therapy as being effective in reducing the stress of cancer patients. What’s more surprising is that certain designs actually reduce anxiety more than others. A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association concluded that coloring mandalas for 20 minutes is more effective at reducing anxiety than free-form coloring for 20 minutes.
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DREAM MEDITATION CINEMA
Ever hope a good night’s sleep would restore your peace of mind and simultaneously solve your most pressing conundrums? Now there’s a stress-reduction technique that promises all those answers and more. Dream Meditation Cinema is a “cybernetic program” that trains your mind to meditate its way into lucid dreaming and “unlock valuable information stored in the deep subconscious mind,” thereby — theoretically — imparting peace of mind. Among the benefits as stated on the company’s website: normalizing sleep and stress disorders, stimulating creativity and improving energy, imagination and memory. Sign us up!
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Mushrooms that reduce stress without a “magic” prefix? Used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for years, adaptogens are today’s hippest plant-based natural substances said to heal and reduce stress. Among them: ginseng, astragalus, licorice root, medicinal mushrooms and ashwaganda. Adaptogens have become trendy in recent years for their reputed stress-reduction properties. A 2010 study published in Pharmaceuticals (Basel) concludes adaptogens work like a “stress vaccine” by “activating stress-induced self-defense mechanisms” to “mitigate stress-induced harmful effects.” So the next time you cruise by the mushroom cart at the farmers market, you might want to slow your roll.
A 2011 article in Psychology Today that cites studies galore heralds magnesium supplements as the new “chill pill,” yet it only recently seems to be taking off as a stress-reduction craze. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is a key mineral that helps us with numerous physical processes, such as blood pressure regulation, nerve and muscle function and blood glucose control. Stress causes your body to release cortisol (the stress hormone). Magnesium works in the brain to slow cortisol release and — boom — you’re more chill. What’s most bizarre about this craze is the fact that it’s available in so many foods and supplements, yet many people develop magnesium deficiencies without knowing it.
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Odd as it may seem, “sound baths” are fast becoming all the rage in urban areas as a way to chill and unwind. Theoretically similar to meditation with Hindi mantras, sound baths are created in combination with Himalayan singing bowls, chanting, tuning forks, drums and other instruments to use sound as a meditative catalyst. In a New York Times feature about the phenomenon, a UCLA psychiatry professor says it can help put one into a “state of profound relaxation” that helps to “decrease sympathetic and increase parasympathetic autonomic nervous system tone and response, thus decreasing stress response.” Sounds like a bath worth taking!
This stress-reduction therapy is as old as the day is long — but it’s still bizarre. Inspired by the traditional concept of energy in Chinese medicine, crystals (i.e., shiny rocks) are assigned various healing properties and are placed on corresponding body chakras with the idea that the crystals will facilitate positive energy in those places. There is no science to support its effectiveness.
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Nesting isn’t just something pregnant women do right before their babies come. It’s also an absurd stress-reduction trend because it just means staying home. Earning a spot on the Well + Good wellness trends list for 2017, nesting speaks to how more millennials are opting to stay home and indulge their FOGO (fear of going out) instead of heading out into the big, bad stressful world to socialize. It’s cousin, “hygge” (Danish for “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”), is also a hardcore de-stressor because it involves a whole lot of staying home and cuddling by the fire.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you tried any of these stress-relieving trends? Are you planning to try any of them now that you know about them? What are your favorite ways to de-stress?
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