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August 13, 2008

Do These Alterna-Therapies Actually Abolish Stress?

Truth or Myth?

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woman getting a massage

Photo Credit: btrenkel/iStock

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PETS Truth.
A recent study of hypertension in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that cat and dog owners fared significantly better under stress than those without pets. Best friends indeed.

COMFORT FOOD Myth.
Your blood sugar falls when you're stressed, and most carby foods contain refined sugar, which only creates more dramatic highs and lows in your glucose level.

MARIJUANA Truth.
Researchers at McGill University in Canada found that in low doses, marijuana increased the level of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain. Large amounts had the reverse effect, worsening depression in the long run. And of course, illegality could bring stresses all its own.

PUNCHING A PILLOW Myth.
Recent studies at Iowa State University put Princess Diana's favorite "catharsis hypothesis" to the test and found that college students were more agitated and aggressive after pummeling a punching bag.

ALCOHOL Truth.
As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol reduces tension when consumed moderately — meaning one drink a day. Getting wasted, however, has the opposite effect and raises blood pressure.

MARRIAGE Myth.
A recent batch of studies show that for women, saying "I do" doesn't offer protection from stress and other health problems, as we'd once assumed. Only a happy marriage can.

RETAIL THERAPY Truth.
According to doctors at Emory University, shopping can give your brain's pleasure centers a rush of feel-good dopamine that drops off after you leave the store.


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