Some stress can be a good thing, but as anyone with a tension headache knows, too much quickly leads to emotional and physical distress. The key is learning to manage stress so that it empowers rather than disables. In addition to herbal therapies, try these stress-soothing ideas:
RELAX. To encourage a calm and mindful approach to life, alternate your regular aerobic workout with a low-intensity regimen—meditation, breathing techniques, gentle yoga, easy walking. Take time off to luxuriate in a stress-relieving bath: Add 2 cups Epsom salts and 1 cup baking soda to running water, plus 2 or 3 drops of a relaxing essential oil (lavender, ylang ylang, frankincense, sandalwood).
SIMPLIFY. Material and mental clutter add to a sense of helplessness and fatigue. Clean out one drawer or closet at a time and donate items to a local shelter. Let the answering machine get the phone during meals. Turn off your watch alarm permanently.
LET IT OUT. Set your mind in order and gain perspective on circumstances by sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or skilled therapist. Writing in a journal also can help release fears and worries; set aside a few minutes each day to transfer your concerns to paper and let them go.
PRACTICE COMPASSION. Even though you can't change someone else's behavior ("that guy in the blue car just cut me off!"), you can change the way you react ("maybe he's having a rough day like me; I'll forgive him"). Studies show that releasing a grudge lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Besides, it just feels good.