15 Easy Ways to De-Stress This Year, No Matter Where You Are
Office Mini Massage
Take the sting out of a stressful afternoon with this 30-second massage. Rest your elbows on your desk and place your thumbs under your eyebrows on either side of the bridge of your nose. Let the weight of your head rest on your thumbs for 10 seconds. Then pinch your eyebrows with your thumbs and index fingers. Hold for 1 second, then move your fingers a half-inch out. Repeat until you've covered the whole brow.
Take a Mental Vacation
When you need to deflate stress, treat yourself to a vacation that's all in your head: Close your eyes and imagine a relaxing place, such as a beach, a mountain view, or a cozy room. Notice everything you can about your spot. What can you see and smell? The more vivid a picture you paint in your mind, the more your body will respond to the invitation to relax.
Instead of wolfing down your lunch while standing in the kitchen or sitting at your desk, take 10 minutes to eat mindfully. Smell your food before you begin and chew each bite several times, savoring the taste. Allowing your senses to rise to the surface gives your mind a much-needed break. And what better to focus on than delicious, sustaining food? It's much more fun than staring at a spreadsheet!
To Western ears, "mantra" is synonymous with "catchphrase" or "mission statement." But mantra is a tool that's been used for thousands of years to help cultivate peace of mind -- something we could all use a little more of. Choose a word or phrase that is meaningful and melodious -- such "love," "peace," or "amen" (or whatever resonates with you) and repeat it silently or audibly whenever you need a gentle reminder to savor the moment.
Uncork a Bottle of Whine
Talking about your problems can seem unproductive. But vocalizing your thoughts about things that are bothering you is actually a great stress release -- it gets what's troubling you out of your head so you can stop dwelling and start moving forward. Make a date with a friend to take turns venting. When you're the listener, don't commiserate or offer advice. Just be an attentive audience. If you don't want to vent to someone else, write in your journal.
World-class travelers offer great advice: Once you've finished packing, remove three things. You likely won't miss them, your remaining clothes will be less wrinkled, and you'll have room for souvenirs. When you're stressed, look at your to-do list and cross three things off. Whether you move them to next week or decide they're not necessary, this exercise helps you keep enough time to accommodate the unexpected or spend an afternoon doing whatever you darn well please.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
Take a moment to appreciate the many things you have to be grateful for. Make it real by writing down your list -- the hot coffee you had with breakfast, the way your husband makes you laugh, the blue sky -- nothing is too small or too big. Whatever we focus on magnifies; but by choosing to highlight the positive you'll only invite more of it to grow.
Breathe more mindfully. Try taking a full breath now -- inhale deeply into your belly, then allow every last drop of air to release on the exhale. This simple action blocks the stress response and cues your body to relax, making you less likely to get riled and more able to think clearly. Breathe deeply before you respond to anything life throws your way, and notice how it changes your reactions.
Know how a cranky child magically transforms into a little angel after a nap? Treat yourself to five minutes of rest. Gather two firm pillows, then sit on your heels on the floor. Keeping your toes together, open the knees wide and stack the pillows between your knees. Rest your torso on the pillows, head turned to one side. Breathe here, releasing tension with each exhale. After several breaths, turn your head to the other side.
Find Your Inner Goddess
Treat yourself to this soothing yoga pose whenever you need to stop the world; you'll emerge soothed and rejuvenated. Sit on the floor with a firm pillow one foot behind you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, letting your legs fall to either side. Lie back on the cushion. Place your hands on your belly and breathe here for as long as it feels good. Roll to your right side and gently come back up to sitting. You've just completed the goddess pose.