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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is a perfect match for the gal who is dedicated to moving forward with her life. Occasionally, however, the merry-go-round of family, end-of-year deadlines, holiday parties and frenzied shopping can overwhelm even the most motivated, dedicated soul. The world is not about to stop for you, though, so it’s up to you to find a quick fix to de-stress and re-energize. Because making sure that you get what you need to stay focused and vibrant is always Emma Approved!
CHEW ON THIS FOR THOUGHT
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According to a study done at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, chewing gum can help relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress, as well as improve overall performance on multi-tasking activities. Gum chewers had 16% less cortisol, the stress hormone, in their saliva than non-gum chewers when undergoing mild stress simulations, and almost 12% less cortisol during moderate stress simulations. If you choose to pop a stick of minty freshness, just make sure to get rid of it before jumping on the phone or heading into a meeting. You don’t want anything to distract your listeners from any of your fabulous ideas.
DO IT YOURSELF MASSAGE
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The stress-relieving benefits of massage are well documented, but not everyone has time to take a break in the middle of the work day to head to the spa. Instead, stash a tennis ball inside your top desk drawer and get a quick fix by rolling it over your muscles.
- For hard to reach areas, such as between the shoulder blades, put the tennis ball inside a sock and toss it over your back. Then lean against a wall to massage the sore area.
- Feet aching from a night out of holiday partying in high heels? Roll the tennis ball around on the ball of your foot. This can be done while sitting at your desk, or if you need more pressure, stand up and hold onto the back of your chair for support.
- Other areas for tennis ball self massage spots include the hamstrings, neck and hip.
GETTING RID OF STRESS THE WRITE WAY
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Research done by Dr. James W. Pennebaker at University of Texas, Austin, has concluded that expressive writing can reduce stress and anxiety. For this to be most effective, try to find a consistent time every day and write non-stop for the designated time period, jotting down your innermost thoughts and feelings without censoring them. Doing so can help you organize your thoughts, break free of a negative thinking patterns, and eventually even help you open up to others who may be able to offer support. Plus, it’s easy and inexpensive. I always find that a chic notebook or journal like the ones found at Paper Source and HolyCool inspire me to put pen to paper.
DRIVING AWAY THE STRESS
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It’s tough enough trying to fit in everything during the demanding holiday season, but getting stuck in traffic along the way can send your pulse racing…and not in a good way. If you find yourself marooned in a sea of vehicles, try this quick exercise: grab ahold of your steering wheel and tighten the muscles in your back, shoulders, arms and fingers until your muscles begin to to tremble (usually about 45 seconds). When you release them, you’ll feel a swell of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers.
FINDING A SENSE OF CALM
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Your senses can provide a shortcut to stress relief, taking you from tense to relaxed in a matter of minutes. For this to work, you’ll have to initially spend some time experimenting with images, sounds, smells and textures to find just the right mix that will trigger pleasure and relief.
- If being outside calms you but you can’t get out of the office, have a photo handy of your favorite spot or a scent that conjures the place you love escaping to, such as a beach or a fresh pine forest.
- Music can easily generate a mood change, so put together playlists you can tune into whenever you get into a funk. I suggest having both a calming mix as well as an energizing mix ready to go!
- Comfort objects aren’t just for toddlers. When we get older, we just start calling them talismans. Keep an object in your purse or desk that you can pull out to ground yourself when the world starts spinning you round. It may be special because of who gave it to you, or because the texture reminds you of a simpler time in life, such as the feel of your childhood blanket or the wood of bunk walls from camp.