How Busy Women Beat Stress

It can be really tough to carve out time just for you, especially when your spouse, kids, and job take every moment you've got. But a few minutes all to yourself can work wonders on both your mental and physical health. A few women share their favorite just-for-me moments and show us how simple activities can banish stress and help you refocus.

"I practice a yoga move."
"Your body and mind are like your computer. All three need a regular opportunity to shut down and restart! So whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or fatigued, I like to lie on my back with my legs up on the wall. This move clears my head, helps me relax my muscles, gets rid of my headache if I have one, and restores my sense of calm. Putting my legs up the wall is also a great way to recharge at that low-blood-sugar time of day instead of having coffee or a candy bar. By restoring blood flow to the brain and getting a different perspective, I give myself a chance to regroup."
- Noel Schroeder, 39, yoga instructor/energy healer, West Newbury, MA

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"I write in my journal and say affirmations."
"In the morning the house is always quiet, so I use that peaceful time to journal and say my daily affirmations. I write what I'm happy about or what's weighing on me and then I recite my affirmation. My current one is: I am blessed. I am healthy and joy-filled. I live a balanced life by dedicating time each day to God, myself, my husband, and my family. I am tempered and patient in my work outside of my home. I lead by principle and example. After many repetitions, I find that my mind becomes still and quiet. I feel centered and purposeful and more at peace with the day ahead."
- Kali Evans-Raoul, 38, president of a communications firm, Chicago

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"I take a steaming hot shower."
"Once my family is asleep, I go into the bathroom and turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. I pretend I'm on a secluded island in an outside shower surrounded by palm trees. By the time I step out, the bathroom is full of steamy fog, and I still feel like I'm on that island, where there are no computers, no deadlines, no children to convince of bedtime, and no external responsibilities. I go to bed feeling relieved, refreshed, and renewed."
- Ericka Alston, 38, public relations executive, Baltimore

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"I tend to my plants."
"I pick off dead leaves, rotate the plants, and spray them with water. Sometimes I'll even talk and sing to them. Spending time taking care of my plants relaxes me. It also reminds me to slow down and take care of myself too."
- Shay Olivarria, 30, runs financial workshops for kids, Lawndale, CA

"I color with crayons."
"Believe it or not, I color in a My Little Pony coloring book. The smell of crayons takes me back to kindergarten, when I was carefree and didn't have so many responsibilities. I shut everything out and focus on coloring one page. The process is a form of meditation for me. My whole body relaxes. Afterward, I'm calm, focused, and ready to face the next half of the day."
- Jamie Novak, 36, professional organizer, Scotch Plains, NJ

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"I connect with other women like me online."
After my husband leaves with our daughter for school and before I go to work, I sit on the couch with my laptop and post to my blog and also check Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk. Having this time helps me gather myself mentally. I feel like I unclutter my mind and get more organized. It also allows me to connect with other women online who are dealing with the same trials and tribulations as me. Knowing that I'm not the only mom out there trying to balance work and parenthood makes me feel less alone and more sane."
- Melanie Edwards, 28, technology specialist, Orlando, FL

"I enjoy a peaceful walk."
"After I get the kids off to school, I walk to the train station to catch the train for work. No emails, no telephones, no questions to answer - it's my alone time. On bad-weather days, neighbors will offer me a ride, but I always say, 'No, thanks.' The people who know me well just smile, wave, and pass me by."
- Carol Fitzgerald, 44, marketing executive, Scarsdale, NY

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"I drink tea and flip through magazines."
"Midmorning, I like to get up from my computer and have 'tea time.' I pour myself a giant mug of hot organic green tea and, while I sit on the couch in my bright living room, I thumb through fashion and home-decor magazines. The pictures inspire me. They also make me forget the sad, shocking, and crisis-oriented news headlines that I see online in the morning. By the time I sit back down at my computer, I feel upbeat and more positive about the world."
- Kami Gray, 42, TV wardrobe/set designer, Portland, OR

Find 10 more relaxing activities here.

What's your favorite calming activity? How do you make time for yourself during busy, stressful days?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.