By Liz Kruetz, Glamour magazine
With new research linking pressure at work to heart disease in women, it's more important than ever to take some time to unwind. Turn off the BlackBerry, take a break from tweeting and try one of these simple stress-relievers from experts and women like you.
1. Listen to music.
Studies show that listening to the music you like can have a positive impact on your life and happiness. "Plus, music can trigger memories, give a sense of youthfulness and nostalgia, and take people into different places," says Karol Ward, L.C.S.W., author of Find Your Inner Voice. "So put on your earphones and let those sounds take you from restless to restful."
2. Reorganize your life.
Living and working in a sea of clutter can stress you out without your even realizing it. Each week, spend a few hours clearing out your office or reorganizing your apartment. "Cleaning is therapeutic," says Elizabeth Kari, 21, from Chicago. "It creates order in my life, and I always feel ready to begin the next day with a fresh, clear start."
Related: The Top 10 Ways to Wake Up Prettier
3. Splurge on a day trip.
Think again about retail therapy. Studies show that spending money on life experiences is more fulfilling than spending on material items. So ditch the mall and use your "me" time to take a day trip just doing new things: dinning out, seeing a play or going to an amusement park.
4. Sign up for a class.
Classes are a guaranteed way to secure time for yourself. "Each week I take a jewelry class," says Laurie Schultz, 34, San Diego. "I wouldn't give myself time to work on my jewelry on my own, so being in a class commits me to do something I love."
5. Make an appointment with yourself.
Whether you're at home reading a book or giving yourself a manicure, scheduling your "me" time is imperative. The key is to make this time a commitment you have to honor, just as you would any other appointment or meeting.
6. Plan a girls' night.
"Me" time does not have to mean alone time. Sometimes the best way to de-stress is hanging out with friends. "A girls' night out doesn't have to be dinner, cocktails or dancing," says Amy Spainhower, director of creative services at metime.com, a company aimed at spreading the "me"-time message. "Try something different. Attend a professional sporting event, go visit an art gallery or museum or attend a wine-and-cheese tasting."
7. Take a power nap.
That's right. Sleep doctor Michael Breus suggests spending your "me" time sleeping. Just a quick 25-minute power nap and you'll wake up refreshed and ready to get up and go. To get the most out of this time, try spraying a lavender mist on your pillow. "The smell of lavender eases anxiety and helps you fall asleep," says Dr. Breus. "In the end it's about the quality, not quantity, of your sleep."
8. Do something daring.
Taking a risk and pushing your boundaries can be invigorating and energizing. "Stop saying, 'I'd like to do that someday' or 'I don't think I could do that'-and just do it," says Spainhower. "Scale a cliff, go bungee jumping, set a goal and start training for your first 5K, 10K or marathon."
Do as the Obamas do: Pick a time each day to work out and stick to it. The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are endless, and it's the perfect time to spend refocusing, unwinding and concentrating only on you. Plus, you're not multitasking during Pilates.
10. Start a blog.
Start a simple blog on something you're passionate about. Blogging is a great outlet for channeling your thoughts while connecting and sharing your interests with others. "I love blogging during my 'me' time," says Sunny Sea Gold, Glamour health editor and founder of healthygirl.org. "The stuff I blog about is body image and overcoming emotional eating, two things that are super close to my heart. The fact that I'm so passionate about it is what makes the writing so enjoyable and therapeutic. That and getting to know the amazing women who read and comment."
Related: 12 Secret Signs He's Into You
11. Send your mind on vacation.
Can't get away? Visualize it! Imagining yourself in a place that has brought you peace and happiness is a quick, free and clinically proven way to cleanse your mind and enhance your mood. "Picture all the sights, smells and sounds of that wonderful spot," says Spainhower. "Just enjoy the feeling that comes your way from 'visiting' your vacation destination."
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Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio