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Feeling the stress? Holidays. Wedding planning. Work. Life. Of course your nerves are shot. And if you might have (possibly) snapped at the barista at the cafe this morning (bah humbug!), may we suggest five ways to calm things down that really work?
1. Drop everything and go for a walk: So you're not a runner. So your gym membership expired last month (last year?). Put on a pair of sneakers and hit the pavement (better yet, with a close pal who you can vent to). Researchers say that burning some calories outside in the fresh air and sunshine (even if it's cold) can boost your mood in measurable ways. And, bonus: The thing you were fuming about when you stepped out of the door will probably matter less to you when you return.
2. Two words: unclench, release: Health experts often remind us that when we're feeling stressed or tense, we tend to tighten up our muscles, and the two places we hold the most tension are our jaws and our shoulders. You can train yourself to release and relax these areas. Just take a moment and check yourself: Are you clenching your jaw/teeth? Are your shoulders high and tense? By taking charge of your body's physical reactions to stress, you can train your mind to calm down too.
3. Breathe: This one sounds simple (and it is!), but so many people forget that the single best way to calm your body down is to simply take a deep breath (hold it for a few counts) and release. When we're anxious, we tend to breathe more shallowly, which can sometimes exacerbate your symptoms of nerves. Fight back by taking deep, slow, calming breaths. It works (even on your wedding day!).
4. Listen: There's a reason for the entire subgroup of mental health called "music therapy"—because it works! And you don't need to blast Mozart if you don't want to. Your favorite iTunes playlist works wonders too. Really, any music you love and that speaks to you can lift you out of an anxious place and help you feel more centered.
5. Cold water: One of my favorite works-like-a-charm ways to pull myself out of a place of anxiety or stress is to simply get up from my desk (or wherever I am) and drink a glass of ice water. When we're feeling down, it can be tempting to reach for a sweet latte or some other treat, but really, cold water is more effective. I find that it does two things: a.) it jolts your system and helps you refocus, and b.) it rehydrates your cells to help ward off headaches and irritability. In short, you will always feel better after a glass of ice water. Easy, quick, free.