Losing your job, or not being able to find one, or having a serious illness, or getting a divorce . . . any one of these is a Kilimanjaro of stress. But you have to deal, so you do. You muster your emotional resources, rally your support systems, and get through it.
But what if life's little molehills of stress, such as a horrific commute, a bounced check, or a crushing work deadline add up to a mountain of trouble for you? Cumulative stress ages your arteries, damages your immune system, increases your risk of accidents, and makes your body (your RealAge) years older. (Here's how to tell if stress is starting to take a toll on you.) Next time a driver cuts you off or the ATM sucks up your card, try one of these stress-busters:
- Make a face only your mother would love. Tightly scrunch up every facial muscle for 15 seconds, then release. (Don't worry; it won't get stuck.) Repeat several times. The combination of contraction and relaxation eases tension and stress.
- Take a cool breather. Inhale deeply, lick your lips, then blow out slowly through your mouth. Repeat. The cool breeze blowing over your lips helps you refocus.
- Uncork it. If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw when you're stressed out, keep a wine cork in your desk drawer, your car cup-holder, or wherever you tense up. When you do, hold the cork vertically between your teeth, and gently bite on it for 30 seconds or so. This forces your jaws, a major tension depot, to relax. (Don't fight stress by emptying the bottle of wine into your body first.)