Most women know stress all too well…the adrenaline rushes through your body as you try and deal with a whiny two-year-old, a tormenting teenager, the ticking watch on your wrist as you sit in traffic on the way to the doctor, or the deadline at work that seems impossible to make.

When stress strikes, try one of these techniques for a quick cool-down

  1. Change the environment

    Do something pleasurable or relaxing for a little while such as reading, watching TV, or taking a shower. If you are at work, step outside for a few minutes and get some fresh air.

  2. Practice breathing exercises

    Focus on your breath, pushing all other thoughts aside. Be conscious of the breath coming in and going out; focus on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling.

  3. Meditate

    This does not mean sitting crossed leg on the floor and burning incense. Meditation is really about quieting the mind. Not reacting; just noticing. Even a minute can make a difference. Be in the moment noticing everything around you and just observe without reacting.

  4. Pray

    Often, one’s faith can be a comfort. Saying a small prayer or series of prayers can be calming.

  5. Do relaxation exercises

    Sometimes known as progressive muscle relaxation, practice tensing and then releasing each of your muscle groups. If your body is physiologically relaxed, then you can’t be stressed.

  6. Go walking or running

    Exercise can be a great stress reliever. It helps you blow off steam and releases endorphins. Take a walk or go running. This will provide some perspective so you can return in a new frame of mind.

  7. Practice a rhythmic activity

    Walking or running are great rhythmic activities that readjust your focus and relieve stress. You can also drum on a table with your hands or a few pencils.

  8. Immerse yourself in a creative outlet

    Doing something creative that you enjoy like cooking, baking, art or photography can take you away from the stress at hand. For example, cooking or baking requires focus, concentration and physical activity—especially if you are making bread or rolling out dough.

  9. Express your feelings

    Write your stress away in a journal, take out your colored pencils and paper and focus your concentration on drawing, or have coffee with a trusted friend and just talk.

  10. Be in the moment with one of your senses

    Sight, smell, sound, and taste—you’ll be amazed how quickly the stress melts away when you focus on just one of them. Eat something that you crave and savor each bite. Light a scented candle and breathe in your favorite scent. Listen to a wonderful piece of music and let it take you away. Look at something beautiful in your surrounding that makes you stop and stare.

If one method doesn’t work for you, try another. Learning to cool down takes practice. Be patient with yourself and you will reap the benefits.

Getting help from a professional is always a good idea, especially if you feel that nothing seems to help. Talking to your primary care doctor is a great place to start.