Forget stress eating—new research shows that your crazy long to-do list does way more than encourage you to reach for that bag of greasy potato chips. In fact, a study in Biological Psychiatry found that women who were stressed burned 104 fewer calories after a high-fat meal than those who weren’t. That could add up to 11 pounds a year! Feeling crazed? Try these sneaky stress squashers to keep your metabolism up to speed.
Take a spin. Twirl around in a circle and say what’s bothering you out loud. You’ll feel silly and may even laugh. “It’s hard to laugh and be stressed at the same time,” says Loretta LaRoche, a stress-management consultant and the author of Life Is Short—Wear Your Party Pants.
Get outdoors. “When you go outside, you realize that you’re not the center of the universe but just a part of it,” says LaRoche. So your problems don’t seem as big. To turn your stroll into a walking meditation, say “Peace” each time you take a step. Five minutes a day keeps stress at bay.
Give thanks. Keep a running appreciation list on your phone, suggests LaRoche. Being thankful every day—not only on Thanksgiving—puts frustrations in perspective.
Deck out your desk. Place a photo of a loved one or some fresh flowers near your computer. “It’ll remind you that your world is not simply about paperwork, computers and deadlines—there is more to life than your desk,” she says.
Cut the clutter. Straighten up your drawers or clean out the closet. Rifling through things takes up time and creates frustration. “These are mindful things that bring order to your life,” she explains.
Find a new hobby. “New endeavors enrich our lives and give our minds a rest from our daily to-do list,” she says. LaRoche suggests taking a new art class, hiking, singing, or getting involved in a book club.
Ahh. Admit it: You feel better already.