If you've recently fantasized about slapping a too-slow cashier or stabbing a rude party guest, you'd better read these nerve-soothing tips, pronto.
This time of year can try even the sweetest chick's patience - what with crowded stores, too many parties (and hangovers), and annoying family demands - and experts are saying this month will be a "perfect storm" of stress because of financial worries on top of everything else.
"Stressful situations increase cortisol levels and cause a dip in feel-good hormones," explains Claire Wheeler, MD, PhD, author of 10 Simple Solutions to Stress. "And since women are conditioned not to express their anger in an aggressive and direct way, they deal with those hormonal changes in what seems like a more subtle manner: by getting in a bad mood." Meaning, we get bitchy. In the interest of not totally losing your s---, we suggest you read our 10 strategies for keeping cool.
1. Schedule tasks that are making you anxious - like buying a dress for a party or finishing a tough work assignment - for early in the day. If you leave them for later, you'll spend more time worrying and end up snapping at people.
2. Take a coffee break with friends or coworkers rather than going solo. A study found that getting a caffeine fix in a group lowered stress levels. But sipping coffee alone left people feeling more stressed.
3. Bookmark these sites: CollegeHumor.com and FunnyorDie.com. According to one study, anticipating watching a funny video can reduce stress hormones by up to 70 percent.
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4. Practice saying the word no. Women, being social creatures, tend to feel obligated to show up for everything they're invited to. But saying yes to something when you don't really want to go leaves you bitter and annoyed. Tell people you're prepping for a presentation, then enjoy the free time.
5. Make a budget for gifts, going out, and travel. It's a drag to do and you may not stick to it, but feeling in control of your finances helps squash anxiety.
6. Lock lips with your guy. Psychologists found that even just a little bit of physical contact is enough to lower your blood pressure and make you feel calmer.
7. Do short, high-intensity workouts. Research found they have a greater effect on stress than slower-paced exercise does. So instead of an hour of yoga, hit the treadmill on high for 20 minutes.
8. Or if you're feeling too beat to work out, skip the treadmill and relax in the sauna at your gym (or take a steamy shower). A study found that pampering yourself - even for a few minutes - calms you down.
9. If you feel ready to snap - at the rude cashier or airline clerk - talk slower. When you're tense, you speak more rapidly, which changes your body's chemistry and turns you into an F-bomb-dropping machine. Talking at a calmer pace will chill you out, and you'll be more likely to get what you want.
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10. Skip the New Year's resolutions. While you might think that giving yourself goals is a positive thing, they'll make you feel inadequate and pressured rather than hopeful and happy. Instead, make some great plans for January.
Sources: Journal of Behavioral Medicine; Oklahoma State University; Research Quarterly For Exercise and Sport; Edwin Riley, Phd, Author of Stress Rx; University of Bristol; University of California at Irvine; Claire Wheeler, Phd, Md.
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