Don't you love it when a too-nice-for-her-own-good friend notices how busy you are and croons, "You know, you really should relax more"? Said friend is lucky you don't slam her head into the giant file cabinet you're trying to organize.
The thing about relaxing is that it can be just as hard to manage as everything else on your massive to-do list. You don't have time to take a leisurely walk during your midafternoon slump or pop into a spa every other night of the week. That's why we've come up with 31 quick, easy tips on how to chill out no matter what time of day it is, no matter where you are. Because the last thing you need to stress out about is not relaxing.
Wake up every morning to what sounds like an air raid? No wonder your nerves are shot. The Timex Retro Alarm Clock Radio T247LT ($20, Timex Audio) calmly rouses you with soft music that gradually gets louder. Warning: may lead to bizarre dreams (or nightmares) about Dave Matthews.
Feel like a head case? Take the problem by the roots: In the shower, grab your hair close to your scalp sounds painful, but just try it and tug up to release tension. Then rub your fingers in small circles over your entire head to stimulate blood flow, which reduces pain and stress.
Swap your A.M. caffeine jolt for a mug of ginseng tea. A chemical compound in ginseng not only kick-starts your metabolism the way coffee does but soothes anxiety too.
Take the dog for her morning constitutional. Studies show that doing just 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day can improve mood, relieve depression, and increase feelings of well-being.
Eat a breakfast that's low in fat (fat takes longer to digest and may aggravate an uneasy stomach), rich in complex carbs (to raise serotonin levels for a relaxed, calm feeling), and high in protein (which boosts brain chemicals that help you focus). Go for plain oatmeal with low-fat milk and strawberries; one slice of whole-wheat toast with low-fat peanut butter and banana slices; or a whole-grain waffle with 8 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese and sliced peaches.
Crank up KT Tunstall's album on the way to work. Listening to music is proven to reduce stress responses such as high blood pressure and elevated heart rate.
Sit up straight at your desk and drop your shoulders. Good posture helps you take in more oxygen and perform better during stressful activities like timed logic puzzles aka deadlines.