6. The Water Is Fine
Take a bath. With a little imagination, you can turn the family bath into your own private spa. Add some scented salts, oils or even some of the kids’ bubble bath to the water. Light candles, sip something delicious, savor chocolates, leaf through a magazine and simply enjoy yourself for half an hour — or until your toes look like prunes.
“I’m a big believer in the power of the tub,” writes Christina Ferrare in her book, “OK, So I Don’t Have a Headache” (Golden Books, 1999, $21.95). “I love to soak in a steaming bath with bath oils or salts that have a heavenly aroma. As you inhale, the aroma takes over your senses and brings a welcome sense of relief.”
Ferrare outlines her perfect, yet simple, tub regime like this:
Fill your tub to the top and sink right in, taking the time to feel your body relax as you slide to the bottom.
Place a towel under your head. At this point you can do anything you want — read a book, listen to music or simply stare at the ceiling.
When you have completed your quiet time, gently dry off and slather on your favorite body lotion.
“You are now ready to face the rest of your day or evening with a new attitude,” she says.
7. Do What Comes Naturally
Kiss. Cuddle. Make love. Sexy rhythm and blues song artist Marvin Gaye calls it “sexual healing.” Dr. Dean Ornish calls it a good way to prevent a heart attack. Call it what you like, the bottom line is this: Intimacy is good for us. It’s probably the last thing on our “to do” list when we’re truly stressed out but, perhaps, it should be one of the first.
“Stress comes not only from what we do but how we react to the external world,” writes Dr. Ornish, the president and director of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., in his book, “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease” (Ballantine Books, 1990, $24.95). “How we react, in turn, is based on how we perceive ourselves in the world. Anything that leads to the perception of isolation causes stress and, in turn, can lead to heart disease or other illnesses.”
And just think. You’ll be helping that loved one you’re kissing and cuddling to have a less stressful, healthier and more joyful life, too.
8. Voyuer Stress
Focus on someone else’s problems. Just in case you need a reminder, you are not the only one who feels the stress and strain of daily life.
9. Write Those Problems Away
Keep a Journal. You can use it to write down all the good things that happen to you each day, such as the time a smiling stranger held open a door for you as you struggled with the baby’s stroller.
A journal also can be a place where you give validity to your problems, worries and that crummy stuff that happens, too. It can be a place to vent your frustrations and it can be a starting place to form solutions and outline strategies. And it can give you a real sense of self-awareness and even accomplishment to review a journal a few weeks, months or years later to see where you have taken your life.
10. Go to the Videotape
Watch a movie. It is called cinematherapy. Change into something really comfortable, pop some popcorn, pop a movie into the VCR, and settle into your favorite corner of the sofa. It is two hours — give or take — of pure escapism and you do not need a babysitter.
The first step for a successful cinematherapy experience is to self-diagnose your mood. Need a good cry? Head for the copious weepers heading of the PMS Movies Section for recommendations like “The English Patient” and “The Way We Were.”
Is your mom driving you nuts? Try “Postcards From the Edge” or “Secrets and Lies.” Is your job making you crazy? Pop in “Working Girl” or “Nine to Five.” Is your man making you manic? Rent “Sense and Sensibility” or “African Queen.” Want to see a movie with a really great wardrobe? Try on “The Age of Innocence,” “An American in Paris,” “Annie Hall” or even “Clueless.”
When your life seems out of control, take it back. And the first step just might be taking charge of the remote.
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