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Relax More, Stress Less

Relax in an Instant

You don’t have to check into a spa to unwind. For stress relief, weave these six mini-breaks into your day.

Woman in showerChristopher Baker 

Relaxing Nighttime Techniques
If excessive thinking keeps you awake (experts call that beta chatter), Amit Sood suggests creating a nightly ritual for moving from day to evening. “This will help quiet your thoughts,” he says.

In the Time It Takes to Pack Tomorrow’s Lunch, You Can…

Take a nice, sleep-enhancing soak.
Experts suggest slipping into a warm tub an hour before going to bed. "Soaking in the tub will raise your body temperature," says Mary Esther, M.D., a sleep-disorders specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina. "This can improve your sleep quality by increasing deep sleep." Make the whole experience even more relaxing by adding skin-softening bath oil to the water, dimming the lights (darkness lulls the brain to sleep, too), or coating yourself with a lotion with a calming scent when you get out of the tub.
RS pick: Origins Calm to Your Senses Lavender and Vanilla Oil, $24,


In the Time It Takes to Remove Your Contacts, You Can…

Brush your way to relaxation.
It feels wonderful when someone runs his fingers through your hair, but the simple act of brushing your own hair can put you in the same zone. “Repetitive movements like this evoke a relaxation response in your body,” says Herbert Benson, M.D., director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. “This can break the chain of stressful everyday thoughts that can keep you from fully calming down.” Benson’s research has also shown that regularly tapping into that relaxation response can help slow stress-related aging.
RS pick: Sephora Brand Large Oval Boar Brush, $20, 


In the Time It Takes to Give a Good-Night Kiss, You Can…

Chill with aromatherapy.
Evidence has shown that certain essential oils, such as lavender, are relaxers. “Lavender has calming, soothing effects, so it’s good to use at bedtime,” says Rachel Herz, Ph.D., author of The Scent of Desire ($15, Rub a balm with lavender oil onto your body’s pulse points (located at the base of your neck, inside your wrists, and on your temples) before you get under the covers. The warmth of the skin in these areas can enhance the scent, which envelops you while you sleep.


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Quick Tip


Juice may serve up vitamins, but it won’t do much to ease hunger: Unlike solid foods, liquids don’t trip the brain’s satiety mechanism. For a more effective snack, pair a glass of 100 percent juice with a few nuts. Get more tips.