- Run Fast
Bike hard. Punch the heavy bag. And we don’t mean your mother-in-law. A University of Missouri at Columbia study found that 33 minutes of high-intensity exercise helps lower stress levels more than working out at a moderate pace. What’s more, the benefits last as long as 90 minutes afterward.
- Listen to Music at Work
And make it the blandest playlist you can create. According to a study at Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University, Muzak lowers your stress levels at work, while also reducing the risk of the common cold. We knew Celine Dion had a purpose.
3. Drink more OJ
Researchers at the University of Alabama fed rats 200 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day and found that it nearly stopped the secretion of stress hormones. If it relaxes a rat, why not you? Two 8-ounce glasses of orange juice daily gives you the vitamin C you need.
- Shake it Out
When you’re facing that big-money putt, shake out your fingers, relieving the tension in your forearms, hands, and wrists and shifting your focus to the only thing you can control: your preshot routine. You won’t think about making—or missing—the shot, says Alan Goldberg, Ed.D., a sports-psychology consultant in Amherst, Massachusetts.
- Shut Up and Smile
Freaking out about a speech? Smile, look at the audience, and keep quiet for 2 seconds, says T.J. Walker, president of Media Training Worldwide. It’ll slow you down and create the impression that you’re relaxed and in control. The audience will then feel more comfortable, leading you to actually be relaxed and in control. Now start talking. Unless you’re a mime. In that case, as you were.
- Have Sex
Either with or without a partner. An orgasm releases beta-endorphins, the body’s natural, less punk-rock version of heroin, so you’ll definitely be feeling no pain, says Nuccitelli.
- Water a Plant
It’s nurturing, it doesn’t take up much space, and for 10 seconds, the world is not about you, which can be a huge psychological relief, says Elkin.
- Make a Schedule
If the boss suddenly dumps a big project on you, try not to say, “I can’t do this. I’m gonna get fired.” (Try particularly not to say this in front of your boss.) Instead, present him with a schedule outlining when things can be done. What was overwhelming is now under control and open to negotiation, says James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a psychologist at Duke University.
- Get Out of Debt Denial
Maxed-out MasterCard? Do the no-duh obvious: Meet with a financial planner. According to a Virginia Tech study, those who received credit counseling saw their overall stress level move from “severe” or “overwhelming” to “moderate” or “low” 1 year later.
- Go for a Swim
During the day, your legs collect pools of lymphatic fluid, an excess of which can make you uncomfortable and irritable—until you take a dip, says Dr. Liponis. “It squeezes all the lymphatic fluid back into your heart and out through your kidneys,” he says. Think of the post-swim pee as liquid stress leaving your body.