6 scientifically proven ways to have a better day.

Life can be a little overwhelming at times. Fortunately, science has your back!

We all experience stress, and it can actually be a good thing. But too much can take a pretty big toll.

A recent video from TED-Ed explains what happens to your body when its exposed to too much stress for too long. Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist lays out the ins and outs of chronic stress. Long story made short: Too much stress can have potentially deadly effects on the body.

Chronic stress can lead to hypertension, cholesterol plaque buildup, increased chance of heart attacks, increased chance of stroke, irritable bowel syndrome, a weakened immune system, and even DNA-level changes that can shorten your lifespan.


But there's no need to worry! Here are six scientifically-proven methods to reduce stress.

1. Breathe deeply.

Stress causes you to breathe shallower and quicker. Luckily, your body is gullible — you can actually trick it into calming down by breathing more deeply and slowly. Taking slow, deep breaths can help temporarily lower your heart rate and blood pressure!

In. Out. In. Out. Illustrations by Kitty Curran/Upworthy.

2. Squeeeeeze ... and relax.

Subconsciously tensing your muscles is not only a common reaction to stress, but it can also make you feel worse. The key here, then, is to take control of this reaction by clenching and releasing your muscles. A few seconds at a time, go through each area of your body, from head to toe.

Make a fist. Release that fist. Repeat!

This will keep your muscles from straining for an extended period of time and will bring you closer to relaxation. By doing this, you can experience improved mood and lower stress levels.

3. Listen to classical music.

Classical music featuring slower rhythms was found to reduce stress and promote long-term heart health! It's not really super surprising to learn that soothing music can have soothing effects on your well-being, so go on and give it a shot.

Here I am! Rock you like a stress-reducing hurricane!

4. Go for a quick stroll.

Moderate exercise like walking has been shown to significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol, as we learned in the TED-Ed video above, is no good.

The same study found that practicing moving meditation like tai chi has similar benefits!

Around four miles per hour is ideal (just keep it brisk).

5. Grab a book (and read it).

Reading is fundamental! It's also a great way to relax your mind and body. So if you're feeling stressed, try grabbing a book, curling up in a comfy chair, and giving your mind a quick distraction from whatever's got you feeling tense. Go on, give it a try!

You're always welcome to read longer than six minutes.

6. Make friends with your stress.

If you can't beat it, join it! As we learned in the video above, stress doesn't have to be a bad thing.

A recent Harvard study showed that participants who were taught that stress could actually help them complete tough tasks were less anxious and more confident than a control group. Physically, their blood vessels remained relaxed — a much healthier state.

Or, if not friends, then at least frenemies.

If you're finding yourself overwhelmed on a daily basis, though, please see a doctor.

These tips are meant to help out if you're having a rough day and need to feel better quickly. If you're experiencing severe anxiety or depression, it's best to make an appointment with your doctor to come up with a long-term stress-reduction plan.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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