9 Ways to De-Stress

Stress, good and bad, is part of life. Here's how to control the worst of it so that good stress can work for us when we need it.
9 Ways to De-Stress
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So, how to get to our happy place? We know that stress, good and bad, is part of life. So how can we control the worst of it so that good stress can work for us when we need it? Here are the key steps experts insist on.

1. Run a priority scan

Once you know what’s keeping your lights on 24/7, you can figure which ones to turn low. When her mother became ill and died seven years ago, Rebecca Brooks, 40, a mom of two sons and president of a public relations firm in New York City, knew family had to be her focus. “I realized then that I couldn’t manage everything myself,” she says. Brooks learned to delegate and prioritize. She beefed up her staff, and she started leaving work at the office. “Now when the kids have something school-related, I’m always there,” she says.

2. Listen to your gut
“Part of stress reduction is learning to listen to what your gut tells you about your life, about people, about a situation,” says Orloff. “Ask, ‘Does my energy go up or down when I’m around this person? My stress level? How do I feel about this job? Did I leave the job interview feeling sick?’ Factor the answers into your decisions.” Mary Saunders, L.Ac., an acupuncturist in Boulder, Colo., agrees. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What’s going on that makes me feel this way—overwhelmed, bitchy, shorttempered?’ ” she says. In other words, you have to face what’s stressing you out rather than turn away from it.

3. Calm your system down
Of course, it may take more than a little introspection to right your cart. Candance Reaves tried antidepressants, poetry and physical therapy before hitting on a yoga-meditation class that restored what grief and fatigue had robbed. “The class allows me to have that out-of- the-body experience when I can look at things differently and really focus,” she says. “When I feel stressed now, I sit down and do deep breathing for 10 minutes. At the end I’m focused about what I need to get done first. It gives me energy and peace.” Even three-minute meditations can re-center you, says Orloff. She practices them throughout her day—a way of turning off stress and turning on endorphins, the body’s feel-good neurochemicals. “Find a comfortable place,” she says. “Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and begin to quiet your thoughts. Picture yourself breathing in calm, breathing out stress, and find an image that relaxes you—mine is the night sky. This quickly turns off the stress response because you’re slowing down your system.”