By Pat Stoltey (originally published on April 19, 2011 -- but during the holidays, we can use all the de-stressing tips we can get)
1. Stand up. Take four boxing jabs that do not connect with a living creature or anything hard enough to hurt your hand. Sit down. Repeat ten times.
2. Spend exactly one hour on a priority project, then pat yourself on the back for making outstanding progress. Go to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee or a glass of ice water (or whatever), and stand at the window for five minutes to watch the weather. Repeat as needed. You never know what the weather might do if you aren't paying attention.
3. Spend thirty minutes to an hour doing a chore that will raise your heart rate. I took my box cutter to the garage and spent an hour cutting cardboard for the recycle bin. It's harder than you think, but I feel good (and I didn't cut myself, either).
4. Stand with your back against a wall. Make sure your heels, butt, and shoulders touch the wall. Suck in your gut and try to press the small of your back to the wall. If you can actually do this, don't tell me because it will make me feel like a wuss. Hold. Relax. Drop your head to stretch your neck and touch the back of your head to the wall. Hold. Relax. Repeat the lower back and neck stretch five times. Roll your shoulders.
5. Get up very early. Brew a pot of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal tea. Drink it iced or hot. While you drink the tea, sit quietly in a chair and think. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes. Don't drop the tea in your lap. When you finish the tea (not the whole pot, silly), check the sunrise. Admire it. Take a picture.
6. Examine your To Do List and pick something you don't really have to do. If your personal life and your career will not suffer, cross the item off the list. There. Doesn't that feel better? For best results, do it again.
7. Take a ten minute music break. Put your favorite CD in your boom box. Sit still and listen or sing along. Get up and dance if you want to. A little Friends in Low Places will lift your spirits. Oh, what the heck, make it a thirty minute or more music break and play the whole CD.
8. Yell. Okay, first wait until everyone is out of the house. Then holler as loud as you can. I personally don't care what you say when you yell, but if your neighbors can hear you, you might want to yell song lyrics or something similar that won't offend or alarm. You only need to do this for a minute.
9. Buy a small drum and learn the basic hand positions and rhythms (or not...it works even if you have no idea what you're doing). Take occasional five minute drumming breaks. It feels great. If you're sticking to a strict budget, buy a kid's tambourine. Or use a waste can turned upside down. Be creative. The point is, pound on something and feel the beat (but don't hurt yourself).
10. Stop working. Think. Why are you so stressed? Can't say no to new projects? Your husband is practicing Morse code right across the hall? You left your holiday baking until the last minute and your company arrives tomorrow? Whatever the reason, own it. You got yourself into this mess, you need to work your way out of it. Now go to the bakery and buy goodies. When you get home, pull the plug on hubby's noisy hobby. Take a deep breath. Then another deep breath. Doesn't that feel good?