Four Silly Stress-Busters To Help You Relax

June 20, 2012 at 11:49 am , by

By Jeff Nelson and Allison Berry

Tell us if you agree: Reading about how all our stress is going to kill us only causes more of it. We get it. It’s no secret that too much stress is bad for the mind and body. And with the state of the world today, it’s also no surprise that women’s overall stress has increased 18 percent over the last 25 years. (Thank you, Carnegie Mellon University, for reminding us we’re more pressured than ever.)

Of course we’d all be better off living out our days in a peaceful little beach town where deadlines don’t exist and no one ever gets sick or needs a ride to soccer practice. But we all know that’s not going to happen. So we set out to find a few fun ways to take it down it down a notch.

Slam a Dammit Doll
Warning: This is not your daughter’s toy. Think Raggedy-Ann-meets-voodoo-doll for stressed-out grownups. The Dammit Doll is about releasing your pent-up negative energy. Just follow the instructions sewn onto the toy’s chest (“grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it”), preferably find an inanimate object and see how much better you feel. We did after trying them out, above!

Pop Bubble Wrap
The Sealed Air Corporation found that just one minute of popping Bubble Wrap has the same calming benefit as a 33-minute massage. Yep, and it’s cheaper, too. (That’s us, two very “busy” interns, right, going to town on some Bubble Wrap we found around the office.) If you don’t have any around, you can order some here. Need relief now? Pop some virtual Bubble Wrap here, or download the fun Bubble Wrap app for your iPhone.

Squish Some Putty
Sure, we all know the magic of a stress ball, but those dinky unforgiving globs of foam don’t offer quite the level of angst-busting as a handful of this therapy putty. Roll it into a ball, squish it between your fingers or throw it against the wall at full force. We won’t judge you.

Give In To A Cute Kitty Or Puppy Video
Studies show stroking your favorite pet releases feel-good endorphins, but not many people can bring Fluffy to work with them. A few minutes with a cute kitten video (such as the cat mom hugging her agitated kitten) can help when you feel overwhelmed. So can this puppy cam, fixed on a precious pack of Shiba Inus.

If none of these seem to help, do what we always do when we’re feeling undone: Eat chocolate.


How to Relax and De-stress After Work (No sofa involved)

January 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm , by

p_101351080When I get home from a full day of slumping in an office chair in front of a computer screen, the first thing I want to do is… sprawl on the sofa in front of a TV screen.

This always seems like the absolute best and quickest way to relax—especially if there’s a nice glass of pinot noir or a frosty pale ale involved.  But recently I was reminded that the opposite is generally true: If you really want to de-stress, get off the sofa and DO something!

There’s science behind this advice. Physical activity itself will lower stress significantly (and protect you from a TV-watching-induced death—check out this alarming recent study). But there’s another angle, too: New experiences (and we’re not talking new sitcom episodes!) give you a shot of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are feel-good, energizing brain chemicals. For that reason, at least one expert recommends novelty as a way of enhancing date night. But why not enhance other nights, too?

Before I became a mom, I’d experience those cool chemicals when I’d drag myself, often unwillingly, to a dance class after work.  I’d feel like I didn’t have the energy to do anything but collapse, yet an hour later I’d be energized and have forgotten most of my troubles.

As the single parent of a preschooler, I can’t do 8 pm dance classes anymore—or even watch a sitcom, for that matter—but this past week I made a point of doing new, shared activities with my son. Check out what we tried… and what happened.

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Let There Be Candlelight

November 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm , by


I’m a candle snob, I admit it. I see nothing wrong with spending a little bit of money on a great smelling, long lasting, fancy candle. Go ahead and drink your White Zinfandel and order your well done steak (ok, don’t) but really don’t buy one of those scentless teal drugstore numbers. Yuck!

I light a couple of candles every night when I get home from work and instantly feel more relaxed. Their soft glow and subtle scents force me to kick off my shoes and de-stress. Okay, maybe the candles don’t force me to do this, but they are an important part of my nightly ritual, and I love them. I’ve listed a few of my favorites for you here. Try a few, and light up your life!

Voluspa These candles come in a beautiful round shaped container that look great on any surface. The Japonica Collection is my absolute favorite—they smell heavenly as well.

Archipelago These candles burn for hours and smell fabulous! I dare you to not fall in love with the Stonehenge glass jar candle. I can’t get enough of it.

Tocca Elegant, simple, and quite possibly perfect. It adds a bit of class to any bathroom.

Illume A great selection that never disappoints. My new favorites are the retro tins (pictured above). These colorful over-sized tins are sure to put a smile on your face.