28 tips to help you relax instantly

Follow these pointers to ease life's pressures.

Tips for stress relief

Remember those bubble bath commercials that promised to take away all the day's cares and worries? Well, no one's denying that a nice long soak can do wonders for lowering your stress level, but it's not likely you have a whirlpool in your office or a standby babysitter who can drop in for an hour while you get your equilibrium back.

So the next time you get those "stressed out" symptoms -- tightness in your stomach, jaw, neck and back; shallow breathing; squinting eyes; fatigue; clammy hands and pounding heart -- try one of the following instant stress busters.

Stress relief tips

At home or at work
1. Sit still and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply for eight seconds, then exhale slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this five or six times. It helps bring more oxygen to the brain.

2. Stretch. With your chin down, slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder. 

3. Make faces (try immitating Jim Carrey) in a mirror to stretch out tense facial muscles -- and provide a good laugh, too!

4. Be optimistic. Think of ways to turn difficulties into opportunities.

5. Count your blessings. Make a list of everything you're grateful for (and keep it handy for your next bout).

6. Find a stress-free sanctuary. Go to a spot where you can find some peace and privacy, even if it's a bathroom stall.

7. Go for a walk around the block.

8. Visualize. Breathe deeply and think of a place that gives you comfort: a private beach, a garden, a cozy room.

9. Turn off the ringer on your phone.

10. Have a banana. It'll boost your energy and replace potassium, which is depleted quickly during times of distress.

With the kids
11. Cloud-watch. Looking for interesting patterns together will calm you both.

12. Stretch together.

13. Let them brush your hair. While they play, you'll get a scalp massage.

14. Hug.

15. Gently massage your child's shoulders or feet, then let her massage yours.

16. Have a stock of activities that you know will keep your child occupied for a few minutes while you sip some tea.

Page 1 of 2 -- Lighten your mood with effective outlook-boosting products, PLUS how a friend can help on page 2.

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