Skip meditation tapes and reach for your favorite tunes instead. Self-selected music relieves stress more effectively than relaxation tapes, according a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
Multivitamins are best for people who do not eat an adequate diet or are in a life stage that calls for more of one specific nutrient. Otherwise, most people are better off eating a healthy, balanced diet and only taking supplements for the nutrients they lack.
"Irregular coffee drinking can hinder your performance," says Peter Rogers, PhD, head of the department of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. To mitigate these effects, drink coffee every day, switch to decaf blends, or drink a strong cup of joe only on the days you absolutely need it, such as during a long road trip.
If a thought-provoking movie, lecture, or book leaves your brain ready for a rest, go ahead and tune out for a little bit. Researchers have found that taking a mental break—like zoning out while you wash the dishes or simply switching your thoughts to an easier topic—can help you retain any information you just learned.
Sometimes it's better to give an argument some processing time, says Robert Gould, PhD, chair of the department of conflict resolution at Portland State University. It may help you better formulate your position and better acknowledge what your partner has said.
Watching TV is not a restful activity. "A lot of television is designed to keep you totally engaged," says Marc Berman, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Michigan. To help ease your mind, try a restorative activity instead, like exercising.
Talking positively about other people—even if they're not present—can boost your mood, according to researchers from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom. Research participants who had more upbeat conversations experienced an increase in self-esteem, and gossipers in general felt a higher degree of social support than less chatty types.
Certain circumstances make people desire something more, not less, after missing a chance to buy it, says Vanessa M. Patrick, PhD, associate professor at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. If a purchase is tied to a goal or is rare, consider buying it on the spot because it may become too difficult or expensive to track down later.
When in doubt, buy flowers—they're a surefire way to get someone to smile, according to Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, professor of psychology at Rutgers University. According to a study she conducted, flowers bring a smile to eveyone's face, more so than other gifts like a fruit basket or decorative candle.