Benjamin Franklin once said there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. There’s a third … stress about taxes! But your week doesn’t have to be consumed with tension. You can make any day less stressful if you follow these round-the-clock strategies.
7:00 am. Throw open the shades.
When your body is exposed to sunlight it enhances the production of the brain chemical serotonin, which makes even the most trying day seem brighter.
7:30 am. Pop an egg white frittata in the microwave.
No need to fret whipping it up now. Make a week’s worth of high-protein breakfasts on Sunday night, then freeze so your mornings will go smoothly. Here’s the recipe: Mix chopped mushrooms, spinach, feta cheese and four eggs plus a dozen extra whites in a bowl. Pour into 12, 4-oz muffin tins lightly greased with olive oil and bake at 350 until set (about 20 minutes).
Noon. Eat a big salad.
Pile it high with green leafy vegetables, carrots, colorful peppers, cucumbers and throw in some fruit for an extra dash of sweetness. And stress management! The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the calmer and happier you’ll feel according to New Zealand research.1
2:00 pm. Step away from the office vending machine!
You’re more prone to binge on junk food when you’re frazzled. And that’s the worst choice for your mood. The quick rush of sugar will make you jumpy and jittery and when the inevitable crash comes you’ll be exhausted and looking for more junk.
Put your quarters back in your pocket and instead, ask yourself, Am I really hungry? If the answer is yes, grab a container of yogurt. One UCLA study found that healthy women who ate yogurt with probiotics actually reduced brain activity in areas that processes emotion, including stress.2
4:00 pm. Go to a far away land.
No time for a real vacation? No problem. Take a virtual one in your mind. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and visualize your favorite spot in the world, or a spot you’d like to visit. If it’s a beach location, picture the ocean, hear the waves crashing, feel the sand beneath your toes and smell the sea air. The more senses you can engage the better. When you open your eyes you should feel more relaxed and centered.
6:00 pm. Sip some black tea with dinner.
In a British study, 75 healthy men who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks were able to calm down quicker after a stressful event than those who drank a fake tea substitute. And the tea drinkers had lower level of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood.3
8:00 pm. Cue up a comedy.
Laughter can lower your level of the stress hormone cortisol. So watch a funny movie or listen to Abbott and Costello with abandon.
Whether your taxes are done or you haven’t even started filling out one form … you can help make your day less stressful when you try one, two or all of these calming strategies!
1. White BA, Horwath CC, Conner TS. Many apples a day keep the blues away--daily experiences of negative and positive affect and food consumption in young adults. Br J Health Psychol. 2013;18(4):782-98. PMID: 23347122.
2. Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013;144(7):1394-401, 1401.e1-4. PMID: 23474283.
3. Steptoe A, Gibson EL, Vuononvirta R, et al. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology. 2007;190(1):81-9. PMID: 17013636.