Yeah, yeah, yeah: We all know that freaking out over the little things in life isn’t good for your body or your brain. Duh. But in this wild world, stress is a given. The trick is figuring out how to rise above it. What takes the pressure off for one person may not work for another, so we’ve put together a veritable smorgasbord of stress-relieving solutions. Take your pick.
1) Pop a piece of gum. Chewing loosens the jaw, where we often store stress.
2) Step outside. Communing with nature wards off anxiety and increases feelings of calmness.
3) Pet a pup. Studies have found that quality time with a canine companion causes an instant reduction in blood pressure.
4) Breathe it out. Close your eyes and take a few deep, calming breaths to instantly lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
5) Take a walk. It helps you blow off steam and manage blood pressure (not to mention distance yourself from annoying people or situations).
6) Shake it out. For an instant stress reliever, get up from your desk and do a few arm circles, stretches and jumping jacks to get your blood flowing and ease tension in your muscles. You may look silly doing it, but who cares?
7) Take a bubble bath. A warm tub, soothing bubbles, and you: enough said.
8) Sip on calming tea. Studies have found that tea consumption correlates with a drop in cortisol levels.
9) Go for pressure points. To relieve stress, try this self-massage technique: Gently rub the webbed area between your thumb and index finger for 20 to 30 seconds.
10) Nibble on chocolate. The flavonoids in chocolate can reduce blood pressure, studies suggest.
11) Peel (and eat) an orange. The aroma of orange has been linked to reduced stress levels. Plus, the Vitamin C will give your immune system a boost, helping prevent illness during times of increased strain.
12) Watch a funny video on YouTube. Laughing releases feel-good chemicals in the brain and causes a drop in stress hormones.
13) Slather on soothing hand lotion. The scents of certain essential oils can instantly uplift mood and invigorate the senses.
14) Plug in your headphones. Listening to slow-paced music at work is can insulate you from any stress in your environment.
15) Drink a glass of milk. Special compounds found in milk may help combat anxiety by lowering blood pressure and increasing serotonin activity in the brain.
16) Compose a mantra. When you’re feeling frazzled, close your eyes and repeat an uplifting affirmation to yourself, such as “It will be O.K.”
17) Light a candle. The calming effects of candlelight lend stress-busting tranquility to any environment.
18) Visualize your happy place. Practicing guided imagery is a simple way to build optimism and take a mental break from stressful moments.
19) Dial a loved one. Feeling overwhelmed? Venting about troubles to a close friend or family member is one of the most effective stress relievers.
20) Read a favorite poem. When you’re feeling frazzled, reading a favorite poem can soothe anxiety and encourage positive thinking, studies find.
21) Keep flowers nearby. Brighten up a drab workspace with a bouquet of cheery, mood-lifting flowers.
22) Practice yoga. Get up from your desk and go through a series of sun salutations to ignite the breath, release tension and rejuvenate the body.
23) Hug it out. Hugging, stroking and touching have been linked to a number of health benefits, including stress reduction. Give your hubby a big embrace in the morning to ward off stress.
24) Organize your surroundings. Living in chaos can enhance feelings of stress and panic. Take a few moments in the morning to remove all of the clutter from your desk.
25) Journal. Writing your stressors down on paper is an effective way to express emotions and manage stress.
26) Switch to decaf. Excessive amounts of caffeine can result in irritability, anxiety and racing heart rates. Stick with decaf after noon to avoid those dreaded caffeine-induced afternoon crashes.
27) Use aromatherapy. Oils of anise, basil, bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose and thyme all have soothing properties. For instant invigoration, dab some essential oil on your wrist.
28) Pop some popcorn. Foods that are high in carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin, feel-good brain chemicals that eliminate stress.
29) Practice mindfulness. Fretting about the future creates undue anxiety and stress; instead, focus on what can be controlled in the present. Close your eyes and visualize all of your anxieties and worries floating away on a hot air balloon.
30) Straighten up. Slumping over your desk prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain, making you feel even more panicked in times of stress.
31) Make plans. Here’s an excuse to sign up for that wine tasting you’ve always wanted to try: Having a fun activity to look forward to can combat feelings of despondency when workloads get chaotic.
32) Fire up your Kindle. Reading fiction can reduce anxiety by distracting your mind from the troubles at hand.
33) Relax your muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation—a technique that involves gradually tensing and relaxing all of the muscles in your body, from head to toe—is an easy way to relieve physical and mental tension.
34) Give your scalp some love. We store a lot of stress and anxiety in our head and facial muscles. A simple scalp massage can stimulate areas on the head, helping undo built-up tension.
35) Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure. A little pampering not only helps you look good, but it feels good, too.
36) Play a board game or whip out a deck of cards. Stimulating your logic function keeps your mind distracted from all of the stressors at hand.
37) Squeeze a stress ball. Got an ax to grind? Take it out on one of these squishy balls.
38) Take a power nap. You’re better equipped to tackle stress when you are well-rested.
39) Rub your temples. Gently massaging your temples relieves tension in the forehead, busting stress-induced headaches.
40) Think arts and crafts. Lose yourself—and divert your focus from daily stressors–in a calming hobby such as drawing, knitting or painting.
41) Engage in a little retail therapy. Shop your favorite online website and treat yourself to those cute pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. But make sure you’re not overextending your wallet—financial stress will only add insult to injury.
42) Volunteer. It boosts self-confidence and puts your own problems in perspective.
43) Listen to relaxing nature sounds. Try CDs or apps.
44) Scream into your pillow. It sounds childish, but in moments of great frustration, it is sometimes necessary (and cathartic) to give into your primal urge to scream.
45) Don’t procrastinate. If something important is looming on your to-do list, hunker down and get to work. Putting it off will only make you feel more stressed in the long-run.
46) Eat mindfully. Rather than wolfing down your turkey sandwich at your desk, chew your food slowly and try to savor every bite.
47) Be nostalgic. Keep an old photo album nearby. Reminiscing can increase feelings of well-being and alleviate stress.
48) Drink water. Even mild dehydration can zap energy levels, leaving you feeling drained and frazzled.
49) Dress to impress. Wear comfortable, well-fitting clothes that make you feel good about yourself. It will give you the confidence boost you need to tackle everyday stressors.
50) Sweat it out. Sauna therapy has many well-documented health benefits, including stress management, relieved tension and improved sleep.
51) Pound the pavement. They don’t call it a “runner’s high” for nothing: For an instant surge of feel-good endorphins, lace up your running shoes and hit the trails.
52) Punch it out. Kickboxing is an effective—and fun—way to manage stress. Plus, you’ll sculpt a killer body while you’re at it!
53) Swaddle yourself in a warm blanket. A very cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature, making you more vulnerable to stress.
54) Commit a random act of kindness. Compliment your co-worker on a job well done, or assist an elderly lady struggling with a load of groceries. Engaging in good deeds boosts feelings of positivity and self-worth, fortifying you from the negative effects of daily stress.
55) Write a to-do list. Planning your day ahead of time curtails stress and makes you feel more in control of your life.