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There’s no avoiding stress in today’s complicated world. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to cope with—and even prevent—your body’s stress reactions. Here are the Top 10 ways to fight back against stress every day:
- Hit the gym. Regular exercise dissipates stress through your muscles—and boosts your mood too.
- Make an appointment with yourself. Write it down in your datebook or planner, and do something you enjoy–a manicure or pedicure, for example,
- Breathe deep. Inhale deeply through your nose, then blow out the air through your mouth while counting slowly to 10; repeat at least five times.
- Get some sun. Even a brief break outside in the sunshine can lift your spirits—but don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Stretch yourself. Stretch up with both arms in the air, one at a time, and then follow with five deep breaths to soothe tensed-up muscles.
- Be a groupie. Get involved with a group activity where you interact with other people, whether it’s a book club meeting or just a regular girls’ night out. Relating to other people is a proven way to reduce emotional stress.
- Give yourself a timeout. Shut the office or bedroom door, turn off the phone and the pager, and give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of “mindfulness” time to meditate, imagine yourself in a beautiful setting, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
- Skip the candy bar break. Sugary, fatty comfort foods may offer a temporary feeling of well-being, but in the long run they don’t help you manage stress. Instead, find a healthy treat to indulge in, like fresh berries or low-fat popcorn.
- Tense and relax. Starting with your head, tense and relax your entire body, moving downward in groups of muscles. Squeeze as tight as you can, hold for three seconds, then release. Do slow, deep breaths afterward.
- Anticipate and adapt. Try to head off stress before it hits by thinking about what really pushes your buttons. Then, prepare yourself in advance by changing what you can whenever possible, and making peace with what you can’t change.