When you're bugging out, your body holds onto stress in one of five key areas. Pinpoint your personal problem zone and learn how to keep nasty tension at bay.
Where You Feel it: Your Head
What it Reveals: You're Stressed.
Any sort of mental freak-out — you find yourself with one of those scary-long to- do lists, or you went on a shopping binge that left you with a monster credit- card hangover — can prompt you to start taking short breaths or clenching your jaw, both of which cause hardcore tension headaches. You may become light-sensitive and develop a dull and thudding ache behind your eyes.
Quick fix: Coffee.
Scientists say that caffeine causes blood vessels in your head to contract, which helps reduce your whopping pounder. Just limit it to one cup! And exercise works, too. Doing 30 to 45 minutes of cardio (hop on the elliptical, treadmill, bike, whatever) releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that help curb physical pain. You're busy, but make the time, it'll be worth it.
Where You Feel it: Neck & Shoulders
What it Reveals: You're a worker bee.
When you have tons to do, you very likely hunch your shoulders over your desk or at your computer in order to concentrate and fully focus, staying in that position for hours on end. But while you may think that position helps you stay focused and get ahead at work, it actually tightens the muscles in this area, which causes them to knot up. Eventually, your neck could seize.
Quick fix: A slow massage is the Best cure.
This easy trick will help instantly: stand up straight with your arms at your side, and slowly lift and roll your shoulders in a circular motion. Do this 10 times in a row; it increases blood flow to your neck and shoulder muscles, which loosens the knots. If you have the time, book in for a professional massage at a spa.
Where You Feel it: Your Hands
What it Reveals: You're restless.
Maybe you're picking at your cuticles. Perhaps you're chomping at your nails, even though you clearly know better. You could be drumming your fingers nervously on your desktop, weakening your nails and leading to chips — both in your nails and the polish you're rocking. Whichever hand- evil you're engaging in, all these niggly little movements show you're fidgety and anxious.
Quick fix: A chilled- out mani (both the do-it- yourself and the salon kind work).
Simply paying attention to your hands is usually enough to help soothe them. Plus, manis may help kill your bad hand habits, After all, who want to pick and gnaw at freshly polished fingernails? Go on; treat your hands to some TLC.
Where You Feel it: Your Tummy
What it Reveals: You're a huge bucket of nerves right now.
Fretting about something big in your life, like an important presentation you have to give at work, causes your digestive system to speed up and operate way faster than normal. You've lost your appetite and when you do eat, you can feel a bit vomity and gross. The result? You feel crampy and gassy.
Quick fix: Eating cheese, whole grains and chicken.
But you don't have to whip up a whole wrap every time your stomach hurts — any one of these foods will work alone. They all have tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain produce serotonin, a feel- good chemical that can reduce anxiety. Our tip: keep some cheese at arm's length!
Where You Feel it: Your Feet
What it Reveals: You're overly tired.
Say you had a crazy-busy day. You had some major deadlines, tons of meetings, and a business lunch. You likely ran from one end of town to the other, hailed a cab and took the stairs — in crazily high heels. By 6pm, it feels like your feet are literally dragging, right? That's because experts say that you feel much of the weight of your waking hours in your dogs.
Quick fix: A hot bath and put your feet up on the edge of the tub.
Your kickers are jam-packed with nerve endings that connect to your entire body, so soaking them sends a soothing sensation to your whole system. Plus, elevating them takes the pressure off, which sends a signal to your brain that it's time to relax. Add some bubbles to make it really special!