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Fast Fixes for a Crummy Day

From Cosmopolitan Magazine, September 2000
by Holly Pevzner

Has your beastly boss got you bummed? Did the cleaners wreck your dress? No problem. We have emergency mood repair for when you're pulling out your hair.
By Holly Pevzner

Maybe your chief berated you even before your first cup of joe, or the slinky slacks you slipped on this morning are now making your thighs feel thicker than German sausages-frankly, it doesn't matter what launched your day from bell. The real issue at hand is how to stop that in-the-dumps downward spiral. Forget calmly counting to 10: We've collected superspeedy (and sometimes strange) strategies that promise to put the pep back in your step.

Do Some Sole-Searching
"Pressing certain reflex points on your feet can relieve tension, thereby improving your overall sense of well-being," says Dwight C Byers, reflexologist and author of Better Health With Foot Reflexology (Ingharn Publishing, 1987). So kick off those killer kitten heels and give your dogs some pampering. Suffering from stress? Knead each toe, then massage the fleshy web, of skin in between. Fighting fatigue-induced irritability? Work just below the hall of your foot by your arch to stimulate your adrenal glands.

Suck Peppy-Mint
Mint acts like aromatherapeutic Prozac. "Specific smells affect the limbic system the part of the brain that deals with emotions," explains Pat Bayles, a scent expert at Aura Cacia, a leading manufacturer of aromatherapy products. Mints message? "it makes you feel refreshed, revitalized, and cheerful."

Spare-Down Your Space
It's a feng shui fact: If your desk's in disarray, so is your spirit. So staring at a paper-packed work station every day is likely to make you feel stressed out, says Carol M. Olmstead, a Bethesda, Maryland, feng shui consultant. To manage your mind-mess, Olmstead recommends putting those stacks of to-do stuff out of sight and placing loose papers in files, not piles.

Tune In
You already know that music is good for the soul, but not all tunes will help you forget a god-awful afternoon. "Hearing an overly perky melody can exacerbate a rankled disposition," says Meryl P. Gardner, who studies mood management at the University of Delaware. So choose music that's one shade happier than you are.

Make a Break for It
To halt a hideous day in the making, pack your mental bags and go AWOL for about 15 minutes. "Switching the scenery or even experiencing a different smell provides new sensations that will quickly snap you out of your grouchy mind-set says GoInaz Sadri, M.D., a psychologist and professor at California State University at Fullerton.

Lighten Up
Harsh fluorescent lights can trigger headaches that mess with your mood, says Seymour Diamond, M.D., director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. To case the brain pain, turn off the overheads and switch to a softer desk lamp. And get outside once a day for natural sunlight.

Go to the Mental Movies
Research shows that daydrearning about a blissful scenario-like a raucous romp with juicy Jude Law or a stroll along the hot sands of Miami Beach--can hike your happy quotient. "Close your eyes for 10 minutes and let your mind wander," says Mark Gorkin, a stress expert and author of Practice Safe Stress With the Stress Doc (AdviceZone,com, 2000).

Milk It
When a sucky situation leaves you jonesing for a tall stiff one, try the dairy variety. "It sounds chche, but warm milk really is comforting," says Jo Ann Hattner, a re registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.'"When heated, the amino acids in milk are converted into tryptophan, a substance that enhances serotonin levels in your brain and makes you feel relaxed and happy."

Set a Dwell Deadline
Obsessively replaying the day's horrific events will only worsen your cranky condition. So place a time limit on your kvetching by setting an alarm for five minutes, suggests Gorkin. Tell yourself that when the buzzer goes off, I will no longer think about that lost FedEx package.

Snag a Quickie
For an instant mood picker-upper, grab your man for a swift-but-satisfying shag session. "Sex is a great tension tamer," says New York sociologist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. And going fast and furious gets your blood flowng and boosts your endorphins for an oh yeah! booty bonus.

Go Au Naturel
Just looking at nature can reduce stress and lower blood pressure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So if you haven't yet scored the corner office with a killer view, you can still reap that landscape " by hanging a postcard of the Grand Canyon in your cubicle. Or place a framed photo on your desk of you and your man lolling on the beach. Just a few minutes of soof soaking in the scenery will calm your crazies.

Buy It Off
Okay, hitting the sales rack every time your day takes a turn for the worse can be a wallop to your wallet. But some occasional retail therapy can be a fast fix to being a bitch. "Buying yourself a treat can give you a little endorphin kick, making you feel a sort of happy rush," says Gorkin.

See Red
The crimson color is reputed to amp up passion and enthusiasm, so wear it on those days you'll need some feel-good fire, says Betty Wood, author of The Healing Power of Color (Inner Traditions International, 1998), who explains that specific shades trigger different emotional responses in your brain. Or if you want to stay calm, wrap yourself in a powder blue cardigan.

Toy With Your Feelings
Games like Tetris, Twister, and solitaire are the perfect antidote to an agitating day. "They force you to think out of that nine-to-five mental box and stretch your imagination in a new way" says Gorkin. "And it gives you a break from a routine - especially one that's bringing you down."

Doodle Away Your Icky Day
Putting pen to paper and drawing an exaggerated cartoon of your catastrophic problem is a creative way to work out frustration, summon your sense of humor, and forklift you out of your funk.

© Copyright 2024, Carol Olmstead