Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that teens who went through a four-week program where they learned about maintaining healthy bodies, minds and lifestyles -- as well as yoga-based breathing techniques -- had better impulse control than teens who didn't go through the program. The program, called "YES! for Schools," was developed by the nonprofit International Association for Human Values.
"Substance abuse and various mental health problems that begin in adolescence are often very difficult to shake in adulthood -- there is a need for interventions that bring impulsive behavior under control in this group," study researcher Dara Ghahremani, who is an assistant researcher in the department of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, said in a statement. "Our research is the first scientific study of the YES! program to show that it can significantly reduce impulsive behavior."
For the Journal of Adolescent Health study, researchers had 524 students ages 14 to 18, who were from high schools in the Los Angeles area, go through the four-week YES! program during the time they would normally take physical education. They also recruited 264 teens to be in a control group that didn't go through the program. Before and after the four weeks, researchers had the students fill out questionnaires to assess their impulsive behavior.
The students who went through the program reported feeling less impulsive after the four weeks than those who didn't, the study showed. Researchers noted that the findings are important because lack of control of impulsivity in adolescence is linked with classroom misbehavior, as well as potentially more risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.
"The results suggest that YES! can promote mental health in adolescents, potentially protecting them from harmful coping behaviors," the researchers wrote in the study.
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1. Take A Deep Breath
Breathing exercises aren't just for seasoned yogis and practiced meditators; they can work for anyone. Taking a deep breath is a simple, effective way to calm your mind and give you perspective. Plus, deep breathing can release endorphins in your body, which will up your sense of well-being and make you feel more at ease, <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/92264-benefits-deep-breathing/">according to Livestrong</a>.
2. Shout It Out
Go ahead, be a baby -- but only for a moment. Feeling frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed? Let it out! (Preferably in an underpopulated place.) We all know the feeling of bottling an emotion inside for too long -- and then when it finally comes out, it's all wrong. Make an executive decision to remove yourself from a stressful situation to let it out in private. This way, you won't mistakenly direct your frustration at an undeserving bystander.
3. Visualize A Peaceful Place
Sounds simple (and it is), but looking at <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/18/find-peace-peaceful-place_n_1798851.html">soothing scenery </a>or a location you love can help cool your boiling blood. Even if you can't physically get there, a mini mental vacation will bring you closer to your happy place.
4. Turn On Your Favorite Tune
It's no secret that <a href="http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/all/1/">music is a stress-reliever,</a> and your favorite jam can help put things into perspective. Try this: Resolve that once the song is over, you will feel more at peace. Need some help in the music department? <a href="http://open.spotify.com/user/mindfulliving/playlist/7DwGl5JCrDYx2ZI1JvO98F">Check out our playlist</a>.
5. Peel An Orange
Wondering how scraping a rind can help you chill out? Well, aromatherapy has been linked to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571632">reduced stress levels in adults.</a> While you might not have any therapuetic oils on hand, chances are you can find a citrus in your crisper to peel. Take a whiff of the soothing scent and think of it as a luxurious, DIY essential oil.
6. Pet Your Pooch
If you have a pet and you're feeling tense, do yourself (and your furry pal) a favor and show some love. According to <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm">the National Center for Infectious Diseases</a>, spending time with your pet can decrease blood pressure.
7. Clean Your Desk
All that physical clutter could be a reflection of what's happening <em>inside</em>. Stack the papers, trash those plastic utensils and give your desk a nice dust-off with an antibacterial wipe. It'll just take a minute, with the potential to reset your workflow and clear your head.
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Play these meditation games to improve your health and reduce your stress.