15 instant stress relievers

Feeling like you can't cope with the demands life is throwing at you? Combat stress before it gets out of hand with one of these 15 tips. Get to your happy place!

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  • The modern world is stressful. Life moves at a frantic pace, and keeping up with family, jobs, household pressures and personal needs gets overwhelming at times. Even if you try to simplify your life and stay organized, there will still be moments when stress takes over. Don't let stress keep you from living a happy, fulfilling life. Try one of these 15 instant stress relief tactics the next time you feel overwhelmed.

  • 1. Take a few deep breaths

  • Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Try to visualize and feel the stressful feelings leaving you. Repeat if needed.

  • 2. Walk it off

  • If you can, leave your stressors and take a short walk, concentrating on relaxing and breathing well.

  • 3. Eat your way calm

  • Foods high in healthy fats, like nuts, and foods high in flavonoids, like cocoa, are proven stress relievers. Taking a minute to eat one of these foods might curb stressful feelings.

  • 4. Listen to some music

  • Close your office door, or plug in your earphones and listen to music that will help you feel calmer. It might be rock music or classical. If you use music often enough, it may trigger calming feelings more quickly.

  • 5. Get moving

  • If I am feeling very stressed, I try to get a good workout in every day, even if it is short. Working my body makes me feel more in control of my mind and my emotions.

  • 6. Change it up

  • When you recognize the things that are making you stressed, try to remove some from your life. For example, if your commute to work leaves you feeling high strung, try leaving at a different time or using a different route.

  • 7. Close your eyes

  • It's hard to rest in the middle of the day, but if you have time, take a short nap. Turning off your mind and refreshing your body, even if for just a few minutes, will reduce stress.

  • 8. Picture the change you want to feel

  • Visualization is a common stress-relief tactic. To use this method, find a quiet place to close your eyes and focus on what you want to be different in your life or picture a place where you feel calm and happy.

  • 9. Scream!

  • Small children resort to screaming when they are frustrated. Sometimes blowing off steam by letting out a scream helps. Just find a solitary place to do it.

  • 10. Put yourself in time out

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  • I am at home with my children most of the day. Sometimes, if the stress of being a mother is making my eyes cross and temper rise, I put myself in time out in my room. Distracting myself with a book or just closing my eyes and relaxing helps me calm down.

  • 11. Resort to bribery

  • If you are feeling stressed by a situation, but can't change it, consider rewarding yourself when you make it through. Dark chocolate and a bowl of popcorn works for me.

  • 12. Schedule down time

  • Stress can't always be removed instantly, but the promise of something fun and relaxing in the future can make the stress lessen or seem worth it. Look at your calendar and plan a fun outing or vacation as soon as possible.

  • 13. Call in support

  • When you can't handle life, try to get some help. Family and friends can ease burdens and be trusted to help you through hard situations.

  • 14. Let something go

  • . An overloaded schedule often stresses me out. One spring I had four kids in six sports during a time when my husband was very busy at work. After adding in music lessons, homework, my job and church responsibilities, I was overburdened. I decided some of the extra-curricular activities had to go and I made simple meals for a few weeks until things eased up.

  • 15. Laugh it off

  • Being stressed out doesn't often make you laugh, but laughing makes the body feel better and will reduce stressful feelings. If you can't make yourself laugh, watch a funny movie or YouTube clips of your favorite comedian. Find ways to laugh and life won't seem so bad.

  • Stress can lead to other health problems, including anxiety, sleep problems and depression. Reducing stress is important. If you can't make your stressors disappear forever, combat them. Try one of these quick tips the next time you feel stress coming on.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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