Real Simple readers take us to their “happy place.”
I dance to the music that’s constantly playing in my head―even if I’m out in public and my son in embarrassed.
I go outside with my little girl and blow bubbles. It makes me breathe a little deeper and calms my nerves. And hearing my daughter giggle while she chases them is the best stress-reliever I know.
Sue Ann Jernigan
I run and run―and keep running―until I stop replaying a terrible day in my mind. When my legs feel as if they are going to collapse, I know I’m ready to go home and face my family without biting someone’s head off.
Stress is a result of trying to control the uncontrollable. I try to direct my energy toward a project where I can see a result. In the spring and the fall, I get out and dig in the dirt. Nothing shows more hope for the future than planting things. In the summer and the winter, I work on making little areas of my environment tidy. I get comfort from binders full of neatly bound recipes and drawers and closets purged of the old and unusable.
Pocomoke City, Maryland
I knit like a madwoman and try new recipes. My stress level can be measured by the number of unfinished knitting projects and goodies scattered around the house.
Barnwell, South Carolina
I get my kids outside, and we play a great game of tag, ring-around-the-rosy, or duck-duck-goose. Eventually I feel like a carefree kid again and can return to reality with a fresh, energized perspective.
Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
When I need to blow off some steam, I find that listening to a mix of old TV theme songs helps to get rid of a bad mood. It’s hard to be tense when you’re jamming out to jingles from The Jeffersons or The Golden Girls. After a few songs, I find that I have calmed down and can move on to whatever I need to tackle next.
When I’m overwhelmed at work, or by a project that seems impossible, I try to do or learn something new. This leaves me with a clear head, a sense of accomplishment, and the confidence (not to mention the adrenaline rush) to help me tackle my problems head-on and solve them. My latest stress-relieving conquest? Flying-trapeze classes!
I head outdoors. There is nothing like some good, backbreaking weeding to relieve frazzled nerves, and the bonus is the garden looks better. My family knows that if Mom’s in the garden, it’s a good idea to leave her alone with her plants.
I sail. When there’s a nice breeze blowing, there’s nowhere else your thoughts can be except on board and fully present.
I have a unique stress-buster. After a tough day, I usually pour a glass of wine and grab my six-year-old’s box of crayons and a coloring book. You really can’t color and stay agitated at the same time. I also keep a coloring book and crayons in my desk at the office―for “emergencies.”
Barrington, Rhode Island
I replaced my office chair with an exercise ball. How can you feel stressed if you are trying to balance on a ball?
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I immediately think of our soldiers fighting for our country, and I think of their families and how they cannot be with them. Whatever I was anxious about seems minor in comparison.
I stopped collecting “projects.” I was always adding fabulous ideas to my to-do list, as if my life weren’t already full. I always felt the pressure to do those things on top of my real responsibilities. Now that I’ve gotten rid of them and have redirected all that creative energy to the things I really want to accomplish, I’m more satisfied.
Salt Lake City, Utah
When things are getting crazy, I take a day. I call it my It’s a Wonderful Life Day. I inform anyone concerned that this is my time. I get in my car with a new place in mind. I might go to a restaurant or a small town that I have never been to before to walk around. Or I may just stay at home and knit. At the end of my It’s a Wonderful Life Day, I feel renewed.
I put things in perspective. I ask myself, “Can I control the situation?” and “What difference will this make in the long run?” I think about how this anxiety-inducing event will look to me in a year, or in a decade, and if it will define who I am at the end of my life. This approach helps me place the right amount of importance on the stressful situation at hand.
Hot bath, hot milk, phone call to Mom.
Amy C. Spaulding
Durham, North Carolina
I have a pair of multicolored toe socks that I have named my Happy Socks. Whenever I’m down, I put them on with my flip-flops and go for a long walk in the park with a huge cup of chamomile tea.