1. Cup of tea. A hot cup of tea is a low-calorie comfort food. Additionally, the process of fixing a cup of tea is a ritual that can halt negative worry cycles. Even sipping coffee can have a calming effect. A Harvard study about coffee drinking habits is quoted in a recent (Feb. 4) issue of Woman's World magazine. The survey findings: coffee drinkers are "less likely to be seriously depressed than non-coffee drinkers," according to Woman's World.
2. Repetitive Activities: Sewing, knitting, puzzle solving are a few activities that lower blood pressure and liberate us from the stress chamber. Boggle, jigsaw puzzles and other problem-solving puzzles can provide short-term relief from anxieties. Sometimes, I stumble upon the answer to a pressing problem while tinkering around with a puzzle or a word game.
3. Housekeeping: Washing dishes, sweeping the floor and other house-cleaning chores release pressure. Ironing out wrinkles from a shirt or skirt can also release tension. Cleaning can be a form of meditation. Deleting email files also has a soothing effect.
4. Music break: Classical music, in particular, can be very calming, according to Woman's World magazine: "Oxford University scientists say listening [to classical music] can decrease your heartbeat to a meditative, relaxing rate almost instantly."
5. Write: Picking up a pen to write a letter, a journal entry or a short note may help to break the negative spin cycle.
Other low-cost stress busters:
6. Exercise: dancing, walking, running and stretching release tension stored in muscles.
7. Make a list: Creating a list (blessings, groceries needed, tasks to be completed or other agendas) gives me a feeling of control. With a greater sense of control, I feel more relaxed and more productive.
8. Do a good deed: Doing something nice for someone else helps me to be less self-centered and in the process, I move far beyond inner circles of worry.
9. Take small steps: Breaking a large project into smaller goals can make the task seem less overwhelming and more do-able.
10. DIY aromatherapy: Small bottles of fragrant essential oils --lavender, grapefruit and other scents -- provide an anti-depression lift.
12. Toss out clothing: Purging the wardrobe provides a mental purge as well. It's like clearing space on the computer hard drive. Donate the extra clothing to charity and get a tax deduction.
13. Color or doodle. Test-phobic children should doodle a bit to relax before taking a test, according to one research report. The process may also work for adults.
14. Read: A novel or a poem can provide a lift into a stress-free zone. Even a short reading break helps me snap out of a funk.
15. Take a short nap: Fatigue is often the enemy. Many corporate rainmakers use short daily naps --5 to 20 minutes -- as a profit-producing tool. The logic: a well-rested mind is a revenue-producing mind.