scientifically proven ways to reduce your stress

Get up earlier than everyone else.
Would an increase in productivity help your stress level? You’d be amazed at how much more you can get done at 4 a.m., when everyone else is still in bed. I’ve found this to be true: Whenever I have a mid-morning deadline which forces me to work before the sun rises, I’m free by noon to pursue activities that are good for me, such as exercising or having lunch with a friend. In fact, research shows early birds are more proactive, a character trait that lends itself to achievement. According to a study of 367 college students conducted by biologist Christoph Randler, early risers perform better on the job, attain greater career success, and reap higher wages than people who start their day later.

Exercise every day.
Countless studies prove the myriad health benefits of working out, including recent research that found strengthening your muscles releases enzymes that detoxify a substance called kynurenine, a byproduct of stress and inflammation. Hate pushing yourself physically? Trick yourself into doing it by multitasking. Ride a bike with a friend and cultivate a relationship while getting fit. Swim first thing at the gym, necessitating your morning shower. Do wall pushups in the minutes you wait for a conference call to start.

Check email less frequently.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia asked 124 people to either limit checking email to three times a day for one week or click into their inboxes as often as possible. They found that those who resisted the temptation to view their messages reported being less stressed than the group of overcheckers.

Forget wishful thinking and try mental contrasting.
According to New York University professor Gabriele Oettingen, positive thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She says that while envisioning something you want to happen coming to fruition can make you feel better, it’s actually counterproductive because you’re less likely to make a concerted effort to make your wish come true. On the other hand, dwelling on your troubles and challenges isn’t helpful either. Instead, she suggests a mental contrasting tool dubbed WOOP, for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. To do it, shut your eyes and imagine your wish coming true for a few minutes. Then, imagine the main obstacle standing in the way of your desired outcome. Finally, envision the action you would take if such a barrier were to present itself. “In a study of health care providers, we found that those who used WOOP were significantly more engaged with their work and less stressed than members of a control group,” Oettingen writes for