That crick in your neck may not be from sleeping funny. It could be from your bonkers work week, the stack of unpaid bills, or the big fight you had with your BF. "Insomnia, GI issues, and aches and pains are often physical cues that you're stressed out," says Howard Schubiner, MD, director of the Mind Body Medicine Program at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, and author of Unlearn Your Pain. Try this stuff to relax:
Turn up the heat. When people took a hot bath daily for eight weeks, it helped them manage anxiety better than prescription meds did, a study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine found. No tub in your tiny pad? Even warm footbaths can help.
At the gym
Try cycling. Hitting the bike for 20 to 30 minutes could improve your mood for up to 12 hours, according to a University of Vermont study. Researchers suggest that adding positive stress—like cycling—into your routine helps you deal with not-so-positive stress later on.
Remember to breathe. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate and relaxes your muscles. To ensure you're doing this throughout the day, Dr Schubiner recommends taking two slow breaths every time your phone rings or before you respond to an e-mail.
Take it easier on yourself. Studies link stress and self-esteem in a way that creates a vicious cycle. When you're worried, you feel bad about yourself... which makes you more stressed. When you start to beat yourself up, pretend you're an objective observer, suggests Dr Schubiner. Say, "This is the stress talking. There's no need to beat myself up!" n