Play a Game
Distracting yourself from whatever’s irking you is the simplest way to shed stress. Easier said than done, however, when critical thinking is the Intellectual’s default mode. Try this trick: Set your mind to a challenging task, like naming the actors in your favorite ’80s movie, recalling the official motto for all 50 states, or translating the lyrics of a pop song into Latin. As long as the brainteaser is all consuming, it should short-circuit stress signals, at least temporarily.
Using your digits for something other than typing or texting can give everyday stress the day off. That’s because physical labor releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers and happy pills. Go ahead and assemble that Ikea bookshelf, fix the wonky screen door, or grab a Swiffer and polish up your pad. If that’s too much, just grab your partner’s hand. In a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study, people who experienced loving contact had lower blood pressure and heart-rate responses than people who didn’t get touched.
Take a Coffee Break
Your new Rx for stress: caffeine plus coworkers. British researchers found that when people who were stressed out drank coffee alone, they stayed stressed. But when they caffeinated with a friend or as part of a team, their stress receded. Probably any type of beverage or break will do, as long as you BYOB—bring your own buddy.