Be a fighter
kupicoo"At the first sign of stress, you often hear people complain, 'What did I do to deserve this?'" says Dr. Cooper. The trouble is, feeling like a victim only increases feelings of stress and helplessness. (These are signs you’re more stressed than you realize.) Instead, focus on being proactive. If your flight gets canceled, don't wallow in self-pity. Find another one. If your office is too hot or too cold, don't suffer in silence. Call the building manager and ask what can be done to make things more comfortable.
Put it on paper
wundervisualsWriting provides perspective, says Paul J. Rosch, MD, president of the American Institute of Stress. Divide a piece of paper into two parts. On the left side, list the stressors you may be able to change, and on the right, list the ones you can't. "Change what you can," Dr. Rosch suggests, "and stop fretting over what you can't." Another plus? Writing also makes you smarter.
Count to 10
gpointstudioBefore you do something you’ll regret or say something that makes the situation worse, step away from the stressor and collect yourself, advises Dr. Cooper. You can also look away for a moment or put the caller on hold. Use your time-out to take a few deep breaths, stretch, or recite an affirmation to make managing stress easier.
Switch to decaf
MilosStankovicWean yourself off slowly, or you might get a caffeine-withdrawal headache that could last for several days, cautions James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy. Subtract a little regular coffee and add some decaf to your morning cup. Over the next couple of weeks, gradually increase the proportion of decaf to regular until you're drinking all decaf. (This is how you should be making your coffee.) You should also consider switching from regular soft drinks to caffeine-free ones or sparkling mineral water.
Just say no
PekicTrying to do everything is a one-way ticket to serious stress. Be clear about your limits, and stop trying to please everyone all the time. The first step to stop doing everything at once? Managing stress and your time well. Take this time management advice from successful people to keep your stress in check.
Take a whiff
id-artOils of anise, basil, bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose, and thyme are all soothing, say Kathy Keville and Mindy Green, coauthors of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. Place a few pieces of rock salt in a small vial, then add a couple of drops of the oil of your choice (the rock salt absorbs the oil and is much less risky to carry around in your purse than a bottle of oil). Open the vial and breathe in the scent whenever you need a quick stress release. Look for the oils in your local health food store, or try a mail-order company like Aroma-Vera or Leydet Aromatics. Here are more remedies for natural managing stress and anxiety relief.
iStock/KuzmaTry this tip from David Sobel, MD, author of The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook: Rub your hands together vigorously until they feel warm. Then cup them over your closed eyes for five seconds while you breathe deeply. The warmth and darkness are comforting. (Don't miss these secrets of people who always seem calm.)
Say yes to pressure
webphotographeerAcupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture, but with fingers instead of needles. Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D., director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, recommends pressing on the following three points:
- The Third Eye, located between the eyebrows, in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead.
- The Heavenly Pillar, on the back of the neck slightly below the base of the skull, about half an inch to the left or right of the spine.
- The Heavenly Rejuvenation, half an inch below the top of each shoulder, midway between the base of the neck and the outside of the shoulder blade.
Breathe deeply and apply firm, steady pressure on each point for two to three minutes. The pressure should cause a mild aching sensation, but not pain. Here are some more pressure points to try.
Schedule worry time
JohnnyGreigSome stressors demand immediate attention—a smoke alarm siren or a police car's whirling red light. But many low-grade stressors can be dealt with at a later time, when it's more convenient. "File them away in a little mental compartment, or make a note," Dr. Elkin says, "then deal with them when the time is right. Don't let them control you." (By the way, here's what successful people do during their commute.)
Shake it up
kieferpixStand or sit, stretch your arms out from your sides and shake your hands vigorously for about 10 seconds. This exercise loosens the muscles in your neck and upper back; if they're strained, they can cause a lot of pain. (Here are some other ways to relieve muscle pain.) Combine it with a little deep breathing, Dr. Sobel says, and you'll do yourself twice as much good while still managing stress.