When the Going Gets Tough, Take 5...or 10
When you're stuck in traffic or you find a heated confrontation building between you and your co-worker, or with your children or spouse, take a few seconds for some deep breaths, count to 10 or repeat a mantra that helps you regain some calm.
"You'll instantaneously reverse the stress physiology and help yourself feel better," says Dr. Selhub. The sequence to keep in mind: Stop, breathe, reflect (i.e. What is it that's stressing me out? Why am I feeling threatened? Am I over-exaggerating?), then choose (What would be the appropriate way to react to this situation?).
It's all about choice, says Issokson. "I think stress comes because we get so wrapped up that we forget that we always have a choice about how we respond," she says.
So what if you're stuck in traffic? You can't change the situation, but you can choose your response. "I can sit here and be upset and wail on my horn, or I can sit and listen to the music on the radio, think about my loved ones, and I'll get there when I get there," says Issokson.
Do Yourself a Favor
Treat yourself daily to activities or things that make your happy, whether it's getting a massage, taking a walk with the dog, giving in to a chocolate craving.
"One of the big problems, especially for women, is that they don't know how to take time out for themselves," says Dr. Selhub. "Self-nurturance is about recognizing your needs, recognizing your weaknesses, recognizing your strengths and then embellishing on that," says Dr. Selhub.
Jennifer Louden, author of "The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life" and "The Woman's Comfort Book," has these favorites for lifting spirits: showers by candlelight in the winter, reading her favorite poetry (or listening to favorite tunes), walks, and selecting particularly sumptuous, but comfortable, clothes.
Louden, who is writing another book called "The Mood Changer," to be released in 2002, advises coming up with a repertoire of feel-good rituals ahead of time so that when you're down in the dumps or overwhelmed, you aren't pressed for remedies.
Or break the monotony — change your hair color, cut your hair, buy something new, or take a different route to work. "It gives you that feeling that you're not in a rut, that your life isn't stagnant, that you have the control and ability to change something in your life, even though it's just minor," says Dr. Selhub.
Balanced nutrition and regular exercise also go a long way to help make you feel good, and each one can enhance the other, says Jane Kirby, a nutritionist in Charlotte, Vt. and author of "Dieting for Dummies."
"When exercise becomes a personal commitment, people automatically change their eating habits," says Kirby. "Exercise kind of puts you in touch with how your body works and how your body feels."