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Feel a need to chill? Consider this cool-down de-stress checklist.

Chilling out doesn't mean we need to drop big $$$ on a day at the spa or taking a lavish vacation (might be nice, but could end up causing more stress too). For those days when we need to hit the refresh button try some of these de-stress tips:

Take a hike. (Or a walk.)
Being outside and able to notice the seasons and wonders of nature can go a long way to helping you keep perspective about what’s really important. The extra steps you take during a walk help keep you fit, too – an added bonus.

Laugh at life.
As cliché as it is...laughter sometimes really is the best medicine. When everything is going wrong sometimes we can't help but laugh at how really ridiculous the way things are going, and that's ok! There's a time for serious worry, but when it's getting a bit too serious to handle, sometimes we just need a little chuckle.

Turn off the television.
There are definitely some great shows on TV. And no doubt, it can be very relaxing to just take it easy and watch the tube now and then. But if it becomes habit, you may fall into a rut that can be just as stressful as any routine at work. The best thing to do is mix it up a bit. Spend some nights with friends, some nights reading or listening to your favorite music, and then try to ration television viewing to truly appreciate it.

Let the phone ring – the machine will get it.
(Okay, more likely your voicemail will get it, but the idea is the same. Unless you don’t actually have to be on call, you don’t have to jump every time the phone rings.) This can be tough to remember in an age when we’re all attached to our phones, but it’s an important way to keep your sanity.

Make a wardrobe change.
If you work outside of home, you probably wear a uniform of some type. It may or may not include a badge or name tag, but even business casual is a uniform of sorts. When you get home, mark a clear line of definition that your work day has ended, and put on your comfortable duds.

Meditate or have some time for silence.
Developing a quiet appreciation in the “small things” makes you realize that they are all big things. When possible, set aside a time each day – even a few minutes – to sit quietly, calm your mind, and just breathe. There’s nothing selfish about meditating or keeping those times of silence. In fact, you’ll probably find they make you a more effective person, and better able to meet the challenges of the day ahead.

On the flip side...take time for friends & family
Sometimes we get stressed because we're focusing on all the things we need to do to get tasks done and we don't put time into our social life. Your friends and family are a terrific support system, take an afternoon or evening to enjoy being in their company.

Try the decaf.
Or, if you prefer, try the herbal tea. Too much caffeine just causes anxiety. Especially try to steer clear of too much caffeine after lunchtime. Being able to truly wind down and get healthy sleep is a big part of a good de-stressing strategy.

Published November 15, 2011
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