Adrenaline may be part of a lean, mean, highly evolved machine (i.e., the human body), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hacks to get it working on command.
Take the stairs. Look, we know you took the elevator to your office today, and we’re not judging. But if the 3 P.M. slump creeps in right before an important phone call, Gail Adler, an endocrinology specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has a suggestion: Running up a flight of stairs could get your adrenaline pumping and help you feel more alert.
Strike a (power) pose. A 2010 study published in Psychological Science suggested that holding a power pose—sitting or standing in a way that makes you feel more powerful—for one minute can decrease cortisol levels by 25 percent. If you’re headed into a big meeting and feeling panicked, try putting your feet up on your desk and leaning back with your hands behind your head, Don Draper style (maybe without the whiskey).
Breathe low, not deep. A deep breath could just be the worst thing you can take when you’re stressed if you do it too quickly. If you expel carbon dioxide too fast, you might get dizzy or hyperventilate because not enough oxygen is being delivered to your brain. Deep breaths are great as long as the exhales are nice and slow. An effective way to lower blood pressure is with slower, diaphragmatic breaths. Try breathing in for four seconds and then out for six with your lips pursed as if you’re blowing out a candle.
Eat your stress away. Real comfort foods are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that actually reduce stress. To keep chronic stress at bay, look to foods high in folic acid and zinc, like spinach and avocado, or vitamins B and C, which you’ll find in blueberries and oranges.