Step outside of yourself. Like loss of perspective, self-absorption also leads to stress, explains stress expert Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D., author of Health and Fitness Excellence (Houghton Mifflin, 1990). Reaching out to others–people, animals, plants, anything alive–helps relieve it.
1. Get in touch with an old friend. Psychotherapy is based on the idea that talking about your troubles helps relieve them. You can reap similar benefits by talking with a trusted friend. When was the last time you had a nice long chat with that old pal of yours?
2. Love your pet. At the University of Buffalo in New York, psychologist Karen Allen, Ph.D., studied 100 women who lived alone. Half the women had dogs. The others were petless. The pet owners had lower blood pressure. Other studies confirm pets’ stress-relieving power. Pets aren’t for everyone. But if you love animals, a pet can help you cope with stress.
3. Connect with plants. Tending a garden or houseplants can also be calming. Anyone can grow a windowsill herb garden. Bring some potted plants to work. “Gardening is my main stress reliever,” says noted herbalist James Duke, Ph.D., of Fulton, Maryland. “I grow about 300 herbs. I take care of them, and they take care of me.”
4. Look forward to something. When stress strikes, recall that next weekend you and your husband will return to the romantic bed and breakfast where he proposed. “Looking forward to something enjoyable provides calming perspective,” Elkin says.
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