How busy women beat stress
"I practice a yoga move."
"Your body and mind are like your computer. All three need a regular opportunity to shut down and restart! So whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or fatigued, I like to lie on my back with my legs up on the wall. This move clears my head, helps me relax my muscles, gets rid of my headache if I have one, and restores my sense of calm. Putting my legs up the wall is also a great way to recharge at that low-blood-sugar time of day instead of having coffee or a candy bar. By restoring blood flow to the brain and getting a different perspective, I give myself a chance to regroup."
— Noel Schroeder, 39, Yoga instructor/energy healer, West Newbury, MA
"I tend to my plants."
"I pick off dead leaves, rotate the plants, and spray them with water. Sometimes I'll even talk and sing to them. Spending time taking care of my plants relaxes me. It also reminds me to slow down and take care of myself too."
— Shay Olivarria, 30, Runs financial workshops for kids, Lawndale, CA
"I list what I'm grateful for."
"Right after I've put my sons to bed, I turn off the TV, phone, and lights, sit on my bed in the dark, and simply cherish the silence. The quiet gives me time to count my blessings and thank God for another day. Afterward, I'm a renewed ball of energy."
— Simi Sanni Nwogugu, 33, Business coach, New York City
"I tune in to the sights and sounds around me."
"My me time happens when I'm riding the train home after teaching yoga classes. Sometimes I read a classic novel, but after a day of thinking and teaching about deep, soulful concepts, sometimes I just want to read People magazine and check in with how Brangelina are doing. And I love the subway sounds and watching people. It clears my mind and gives me a few minutes to decompress before I go home to my partner and start another round of relating."
— Sadie Nardini, 37, Yoga studio owner, Brooklyn, NY
"I write in my journal and say affirmations."
"In the morning the house is always quiet, so I use that peaceful time to journal and say my daily affirmations. I write what I'm happy about or what's weighing on me and then I recite my affirmation. My current one is: I am blessed. I am healthy and joy-filled. I live a balanced life by dedicating time each day to God, myself, my husband, and my family. I am tempered and patient in my work outside of my home. I lead by principle and example. After many repetitions, I find that my mind becomes still and quiet. I feel centered and purposeful and more at peace with the day ahead."
— Kali Evans-Raoul, 38, President of a communications firm, Chicago
"I color with crayons."
"Believe it or not, I color in a My Little Pony coloring book. The smell of crayons takes me back to kindergarten, when I was carefree and didn't have so many responsibilities. I shut everything out and focus on coloring one page. The process is a form of meditation for me. My whole body relaxes. Afterward, I'm calm, focused, and ready to face the next half of the day."
— Jamie Novak, 36, Professional organizer, Scotch Plains, NJ
"I connect with other women like me online."
After my husband leaves with our daughter for school and before I go to work, I sit on the couch with my laptop and post to my blog and also check Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk. Having this time helps me gather myself mentally. I feel like I unclutter my mind and get more organized. It also allows me to connect with other women online who are dealing with the same trials and tribulations as me. Knowing that I'm not the only mom out there trying to balance work and parenthood makes me feel less alone and more sane."
— Melanie Edwards, 28, Technology specialist, Orlando, FL
"I ride on my moped."
"Coasting around the neighborhood is a great way to get myself in the present moment — you can't drift off thinking about your to-do list or else you'll crash! As I pass by parks full of retirees playing board games, I wonder what their stories are. When I come back to work after my spin, I'm always relaxed and thankful that I live in such an interesting place."
— Jan McInnis, 48, Comedian, Los Angeles
"I check in with family and friends."
"Whenever I head out to run afternoon errands in my car, I put on my headset and make quick phone calls to friends or family. Either I play catch-up with them for 15 minutes or, if they're not around, I'll leave voice mails or messages on their answering machines. For me, this is me time because I'm a big relationship person, so being able to connect with others or simply let them know I'm thinking of them fills my heart and refuels me."
— Kate Larsen, 50, Life coach, Minneapolis
"I look at nature photography."
"I like to look at photography of flowers, plants, and gardens to get inspiration for the napkins, pillows, and scarves I design. I've accumulated a huge library of gardening books and photos, but mostly I look at images that I've taken, either in my garden or in other gardens I've visited. I'll study the curves of the leaves and the color combinations of the flowers and try to duplicate them in my sketches. Looking at the beauty of nature, with all of its colors and textures, fills me with ideas. For the rest of the evening, I feel creative and so excited and energized about my art."
— Kristene Smith, 40, Home fashions designer, Sacramento, CA
"I chill out in my hot tub."
"I go outside on my back porch and soak in the hot tub as often as I can. This forces me to relax after a hectic morning and prepares me for my second job of picking up my three boys from school and carting them around to the library, soccer and baseball practice, and karate lessons. I find that after a hot, quiet soak, I'm less stressed running around with all the kids and trying to accommodate all of their schedules."
— Wendy Walker, 42, Author, Stamford, CT
"I build my muscles."
"I lift weights (I work from home and have a workout room), and when I'm finished I feel refreshed, empowered, and like superwoman, supercharged! I truly feel that spending this time alone doing something I love leaves a positive impact on everyone around me — it makes me a healthy role model, I'm more patient, and, because I'm taking good care of myself, I can better take care of others."
— Sunni Patterson, 41, Business owner/entrepreneur, Barrington, IL
"I take a steaming hot shower."
"Once my family is asleep, I go into the bathroom and turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. I pretend I'm on a secluded island in an outside shower surrounded by palm trees. By the time I step out, the bathroom is full of steamy fog, and I still feel like I'm on that island, where there are no computers, no deadlines, no children to convince of bedtime, and no external responsibilities. I go to bed feeling relieved, refreshed, and renewed."
— Ericka Alston, 38, Public relations executive, Baltimore
"I head outside with my dog."
"After I get breakfast on the table and lunches made, I'm out the door with my dog, Zaiah. I notice the birds and squirrels, the color of the leaves. Our walk is brisk but peaceful, and I come back energized and ready to tackle another day."
— Kristi Kovalak, 41, Marketing executive, St. Louis
"I play the piano."
"I sit down at my Steinway grand piano right after I get home from my work day and lose my thoughts in music. For years, my job, my family and friends, housework, and caring for my elderly father in my home took me away from playing the piano. But happily, I rediscovered this joy last year, and ever since then I have permitted myself to make time for playing every day. Because I have to concentrate on whatever piece of music I've chosen, other stresses of the day disappear. There's no way you can think about your problems while you're playing Chopin!"
— Susan Wilson Solovic, 52, Women's entrepreneurial executive, St. Louis
"I enjoy a peaceful walk."
"After I get the kids off to school, I walk to the train station to catch the train for work. No emails, no telephones, no questions to answer — it's my alone time. On bad-weather days, neighbors will offer me a ride, but I always say, "No, thanks." The people who know me well just smile, wave, and pass me by."
— Carol Fitzgerald, 44, Marketing executive, Scarsdale, NY
"I cuddle with my cat."
"I groom, play with, and bury my face in the belly of my beloved cat, Simba. This little bit of time together helps strengthen our bond, but it also decompresses and refuels me. My focus is on him instead of being on my work or my worries. When he puts a big paw on my cheek and we look into each other's eyes, I feel like I can go back to my desk and conquer anything."
— L.A. Pomeroy, 47, Equestrian sports journalist, Northampton, MA
"I drink tea and flip through magazines."
"Midmorning, I like to get up from my computer and have "tea time." I pour myself a giant mug of hot organic green tea and, while I sit on the couch in my bright living room, I thumb through fashion and home-decor magazines. The pictures inspire me. They also make me forget the sad, shocking, and crisis-oriented news headlines that I see online in the morning. By the time I sit back down at my computer, I feel upbeat and more positive about the world."
— Kami Gray, 42, TV wardrobe/set designer, Portland, OR