Real Simple readers reveal their methods.
I go outside, day or night, and look at the sky. It is instantly calming to watch the clouds or the starry sky, even for five minutes. It’s even better to take my son and share a Popsicle. It is impossible to be stressed with a Popsicle.
Some time ago, I was getting worked up about taking an exam. Whenever I knew I was about to lose it, I’d put on my iPod and walk. Well, I found it so relaxing that I’ve now been going for walks four days a week for almost two years. Not only am I de-stressed but I’ve also dropped a few pounds! Unfortunately, though, I didn’t pass that exam.
Staten Island, New York
As simple as it sounds, I just breathe. Sometimes a simple inhale for four counts and exhale for eight can turn my day around and prevent a terse response, an argument, or a snippy comment.
To get through a stressful day or situation, I take a moment to visualize myself at home relaxing with my husband. I tell myself, “It’s just another day, and before I know it, it will be over and I will be home with people I love.” It always relaxes me and gets me through the rough road ahead.
I read a good book. I escape to someone else’s world for a while, and when it is time for me to come back, I feel like new.
Ocean, New Jersey
Throwing the ball with our three Border collies. Their eagerness and playfulness is the fastest and best way to take the edge off of a bad day.
Laugh. I have found that if something can make me laugh when I am at my most agitated, it completely calms my chaotic nerves.
San Antonio, Texas
I write about it. Getting the stress out of my head and onto paper doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it does help me regroup and see things differently.
As a general rule, I put on my favorite pair of running shoes and pound the pavement for a few miles (more if necessary); come home and take a long, hot bubble bath; and remind myself that if I’m freaking out, it’s because my focus is on the wrong things and I need to reevaluate my priorities.
Ponca City, Oklahoma
There’s no trick to it. Just find the happiness in everyday moments: a laugh shared with a friend, the comfort of holding your child in your arms, and the nudges or purrs from your favorite furry friends. It’s not hard to find ways to alleviate stress. It’s only hard to remember to take the time to appreciate all the magical moments that surround us.
Any anxiety-relieving technique I have includes cooking. I will bake something new for my family, search for healthy recipes, or plan a dinner event for my girlfriends. When I say I’m cooking, they all come over knowing I need to talk.
Stone Mountain, Georgia Playing my baby grand piano. Getting to pour out my emotions with a few songs is such a stress-reliever.
PEP: Put Everything in Perspective. My friend and I have a knack for sensing each other’s bad times, but schedules don’t always allow for a good venting, so we text or e-mail each other the word PEP. It is a great reminder that someone we love is cheering us through a tough time and that the next minute, hour, or day may bring a solution (or a smile).
I have at least 15 minutes of “me time” every day doing one of the following: wrestling with the cat, soaking in the tub, composing a haiku, or simply listening to my heart pump slowly.
Hazel A. Witherspoon
I’m a list maker. Somehow, no matter how much I have to do, if I can get it all down on a list, it seems more manageable. I also get a thrill when I can cross things off.
Surrey, British Columbia
I crochet, knit, or do beading. It takes my mind off stressful things, and I find that I relax and enjoy what I’m creating.
Heading to the gym after work allows me to work through the day mentally and move on to a calmer state of mind, and it’s also a great way to work off some steam after a trying day.
For me, music is the answer. It can impact my mood more than any other external variable. Within the first few beats of a favorite song, I can’t help but feel happy and refreshed. The trick is knowing what songs to play: upbeat and catchy if I need a boost, or low and slow if I want to relax. Either way, the stress doesn’t stand a chance when the right music is playing.
When I’m in my bed at night trying to sleep and find myself stressed out by life, I say a little prayer: “God, I can’t handle these problems right now. Please take them in your hands tonight.” It’s easier to sleep when you’ve got a powerful friend looking out for you.
I am a mother and a high school teacher. There are few moments in my life when I’m not being a role model. I constantly remind myself that how I deal with stress needs to be the standard for how I want my children and students to behave. This forces me to “walk the walk” and proactively solve problems that are stressing me out instead of throwing temper tantrums.
I scrapbook. Getting lost in the photographs and the memories makes you forget the problems and the worries at hand.
Little Rock, Arkansas
I deliberately watch an old movie, think about long-lost people I miss, or read a tearjerker and let the tears flow. A good five-minute cry in the shower or under the covers can reduce my stress level greatly.
Brooklyn, New York
1. Eat chocolate.
2. Take a nap.
3. Listen to Santana.