When it comes to managing stress, you don't need to go to extremes to get big benefits. These stress reduction tips fit into your busy life and get you calm fast—any time, anywhere.
Stress Reduction Secret: Prep for Tomorrow
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Nothing is more stressful than feeling unprepared at work, says Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D., author of The New Feminine Brain. Get organized so you're ready for tomorrow, taking a few minutes to make a to-do list before you leave the office. When you come in the next morning, you'll feel in control—and calm.
Stress Reduction Secret: Arm Yourself with Snacks
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Women are more likely than men to turn to comfort food such as ice cream and cookies to ease stress. Keep small amounts of snacks you love on hand: peanuts, if you like salty; a piece of dark chocolate, if you crave sweets. Deprivation will only drive stress binges.
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Stress Reduction Secret: Try a Repeat Performance
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Doing almost any routine, repetitive activity (like vacuuming or knitting), or reciting a word that represents how you wish you felt (such as "calm") is a quick way to achieve a Zen-like state called the relaxation response, says Harvard's Herbert Benson, M.D. The results: lower blood pressure, a slower heart rate and decreased muscle tension.
Stress Reduction Secret: Wash Your Hands
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When you're under pressure, you're more susceptible to cold viruses and other germs because your immune system is suppressed. Hand washing is your best defense. Lather up with soap and warm water for 10 to 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
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Stress Reduction Secret: Turn On Some Tunes in The Car
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According to a study published in the British journal Heart, slow or meditative music (such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9) is a proven stress buster, so set your dial to a soothing station during your commute.
Stress Reduction Secret: Cut Back On The ATM Visits
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Money worries are a top source of stress—and feeling out of control only makes things worse. Limiting your cash withdrawals to once a week is a quick, easy way to monitor your spending and rein it in, says Deborah Fowles, author of The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s Book.
Stress Reduction Secret: Recall Your Past Success In Managing Stress
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Taking five minutes to reflect on how you pulled through other stressful situations—like your last breakup or job change—can help you reconnect with your resilient side. In the moment, your problems may seem insurmountable, but when you look back, you realize that you've felt similarly before and found a way to overcome it.
Stress Reduction Secret: Give Your Thumbs A Rest
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E-mail, cell phones, and BlackBerrys are a leading source of stress, putting many of us in a constant state of alert. Can't kick the CrackBerry habit? Set a regular time you'll check it (say, right after dinner), so you're not constantly disrupting home life to keep tabs on work.
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Stress Reduction Secret: Hit The Pool!
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Swimming is another secret to stress reduction: A Swedish study published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that floating in water triggers the body's relaxation response, helping lower stress-hormone levels. Even better, nearly 80 percent of the subjects showed improvements such as feeling less tense and depressed.
Stress Reduction Secret: Sleep Better With a Bedtime Asana
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Yoga in Bed author Edward Vilga recommends this move: Sitting on bed, legs crossed, place right hand down on bed behind you and rest left hand on right knee. Sit up straight and inhale for four counts. Exhale, twisting gently toward right hand. Hold for four more breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
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