If you’re experiencing bothersome health hassles during the day, there are some natural cures to get instant relief. Here are six simple ways to end those health woes in about two minutes or less!
Soothes Stress: Rippling Water Sounds
The back-to-the-grind feeling that settles in as summer ends can lead to an uptick in production of cortisol, a stress hormone that fosters chronic tension and anxiety. But research in the journal Scientific Reports suggests listening to the sound of rippling water can tame tension in as little as one minute, plus provide up to 40 percent more stress relief than even soothing classical music. Study co-author Mark Ware, PhD, explains that water sounds activate the autonomic nervous system — a branch of nerves that tamps down cortisol release. To get the benefits if you don’t live near water, download a free app, like Water Relaxing Sounds (for iPhones) or Ocean Waves (for Androids).
Banishes the Blues: A Colorful Background
It’s not just you — two in three of us are noticing a downturn in happiness these days (blame diminished UV exposure as summer ends, which hinders production of the mood-steadying neurotransmitter, acetylcholine) The good news: British scientists say that when you’re having a blah day, changing the wallpaper on your cell phone, tablet or laptop to a picture that’s bursting with color and cheer — like a beautiful flower, or a sunny beach —can stimulate acetylcholine release, helping you feel more upbeat in just two minutes.
Tames Pain: A Lavender Rub
If you’re feeling sore after a day of garden cleanup or other outdoor activities, massaging diluted lavender essential oil into tender spots for two minutes — or adding the oil to your evening bath if you’re achy all over — could cut your pain by 58 percent. That’s the word from Cleveland Clinic researchers, who say lavender’s soothing aroma quickly calms overactive pain nerves, plus this essential oil contains analgesic compounds that relax muscles and improve blood flow. To make a massage lotion, mix 25 drops of lavender oil into two ounces of any carrier oil or unscented lotion — to add to a bath, mix lavender oil into a dollop of shampoo, first, so it will disperse.
Ends Insomnia: A Potted Plant
Summer holidays will soon be in the rearview, life is getting busier, and 63 percent of us are now finding it tough to turn off our busy brains and drift off to sleep at night. Fortunately, Georgetown University researchers say just moving one of your favorite potted plants into your bedroom — and gazing at it for two minutes, while breathing slowly and deeply, before turning out the lights — could help you drift off up to 40 minutes sooner. That’s because combining relaxed breathing with the sight of pretty greenery prompts the release of calming, sleep-inducing theta brain waves — the same ones released during meditation.
Curbs Cravings: Tapping Here
Strong UV light heightens your brain’s appetite control, so it’s no wonder food cravings become stronger and harder to ignore as the days get shorter. Thankfully, research in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that you can quash even powerful, diet-sabotaging cravings in 30 seconds just by tapping firmly and rhythmically on your forehead — and if this trick stops you from indulging in one 300-calorie snack daily, you could effortlessly shed three pounds each month. Explains study co-author Peta Stapleton, PhD, forehead tapping calms the hunger center in your brain, so you’ll crave food if your stomach is empty, but not if it’s comfortably full.
Ends Indigestion: Your Heating Pad
You may not have reached for a hot water bottle or heating pad since your last bout of menstrual cramps, yet this popular Grandma’s remedy for “that time of the month” is also a study-proven digestion-booster! UCLA scientists say warming your belly for as little as two minutes activates the enteric nervous system (nerves that prompt the release of digestive acids and bile, plus relax painful spasms in the intestines), taming tummy upsets more quickly and effectively than OTC remedies like Rolaids and Tums can.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.