KAKE On Your Side: stress relief-what works, what doesn't?

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Whether it's the holidays, kids, politics or planning a wedding, stress engulfs the best of us.

But when you're scanning store shelves for some relief, what should you buy?

We paid a visit to Cardiologist Shilpa Kshatriya at Wesley Hospital to find out.

"Stress itself has been associate with heart disease. It's not clear if it's because of the chronic stress that raises adrenaline levels or because it affects risk factors," she told KAKE News Investigator Krista Miller.

Those risk factors include smoking, eating poorly, elevated blood pressure and, in general, unhealthy life choices. All of them are habits of people with chronic stress, according to Dr. Kshatriya.

"When I see patients with acute cardiac emergencies, heart attacks, congestive heart failure often times job stress seems to play a role," adds Kshatriya.

To see which products work best, KAKE News Investigator Krista Miller got hooked up to a heart monitor to measure the difference, if any, several over-the-counter stress relief products may have on her stress level.

Here’s what we discovered: while the lotion and the essential oil spray smell fantastic, they didn't make much difference in Miller’s heart rate. But what did?

"If I were to invest in anything, it'd be the tea," said Kshatriya.

Dr. Kshatriya recommends tea for the longer-lasting effects of peace and well being. It not only lowered Miller’s heart rate, but also contains high level of antioxidants and helps with inflammation. That makes tea the big winner.

But in our research, we discovered one item that is scientifically proven to reduce stress: flowers! In a ten-month study out of the University of North Florida, researchers proved flowers affect happiness, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and even provide a boost of energy. It's a study Jennifer Barnard with Tilly's Flowers can vouch for.

"A lot of it has to do with the smells, a lot has to do with the colors. So orange is a color that makes people feel happy. So you can have flowers like orange roses, orange gerbers that bring out the happiness in people. And then the other study would be, they like the peaceful colors like the blues and greens and whites, and so that brings a calm and peacefulness to their home," said Barnard.

With that in mind, KAKE News decided to conduct a social experiment of our own. Tilly’s provided us with ten bunches of flowers, and we headed to the downtown Wichita post office to brighten some people’s days.

We asked, 'Do you find the holidays stressful?"

"Yes, especially with Christmas and everything," said one Wichitan.

Some people laughed.

"I'm retired. I don't have stress," said a Wichitan.

There were even some tears.

"Oh, you're going to make me cry. You just brightened mine," said another Wichitan.

We found the old saying, "Stop and smell the roses" is some solid advice.

Doctors do stress that exercise and mediation are most effective in treating stress.

But when it comes to over-the-counter products, it's tea and flowers for the win.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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