As we said, stress isn't all bad. It's what gives you the concentration and ability to finish a project or meet a deadline. But stress can linger around like week-old leftovers and create its own kind of stink. So in periods of high stress, you need to have a plan that works for you. Such things as exercise and meditation work for some people, and both of them will help you manage chronic stress through the release of such feel-good substances as nitric oxide and brain chemicals called endorphins. But in the heat of the moment, at peak periods of high intensity, you should be able to pull a quick stress-busting behavior out of your biological bag of tricks. Our suggestions:
Scrunch your face tightly for fifteen seconds, then release. Repeat several times. This repetitive contraction and relaxation helps release tension you're holding above the neck.
Breathe in, lick your lips, then blow out slowly. The cool air helps you refocus and slow down.
Cork it. Hold a wine cork vertically between your teeth. Putting a gentle bite on the cork forces your jaws — a major holder of tension—to relax. (Don't fight stress by emptying the bottle of wine into your body first.)