10 Ways to De-Stress

Do you feel trapped by your job? Is the day-to-day grind weighing you down? Here's how to break out of a rut at work and start living your life now.

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1. MAKE YOUR JOB WORK FOR YOU

"Don't let work rule your life," says Susie Mantell, a stress-relief expert. Set aside time in your date book for social events one or two times a week, and commit to them as you would any other project.

2. DEFINITELY DO LUNCH

Deprive your body of food and it will break down on you under pressure, says Priscilla Marotta, Ph.D., author of Power & Wisdom: The New Path for Women. At least have some soup, or grab a slice of veggie pizza on the go. Also, buy low-fat snacks, such as yogurt or trail mix, that you can munch on to keep energy up throughout the day.

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3. TAKE MINI TIME-OUTS

Tension can build up quickly, so take two or three minutes every hour or two to relax. Get up, walk around, take deep breaths, or chat with a coworker. People who take breaks are more productive at work and more satisfied with their jobs.

4. GET A CHANGE OF SCENERY

During your lunch break, visit a park, flower shop, or pet store to recharge and take your mind off work.

5. REMIND YOURSELF WHO YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF YOUR JOB

Hang family photos, postcards, or seashells from your last trip to the beach by your desk. "Work is only part of who you are, not all of who you are," says Mantell.

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6. LEARN TO SAY NO

"Women often have trouble setting limits, because they don't like to disappoint people who count on them," says Marotta. Are you taking on more than you can handle? Are your deadlines realistic? Trust your intuition. If you almost never make it to yoga class, maybe you don't think you're worth the time. Try to put yourself first, and don't reply to e-mails after 4:30 p.m. to help make sure you get out the door for some you time.

7. ASK FOR HELP

You may want to do everything yourself, but delegating will save you time in the end. The smartest way to oversee a project: Outline responsibilities, set deadlines, and schedule periodic updates.

8. WORK SMARTER -- NOT HARDER

If you regularly work longer hours than your coworkers, you may not be using your time wisely. Streamline tasks that stress you the most. Then, promise yourself that you'll leave the office every day at a certain time, or complete a project by a specific deadline, and do the best you can with the time you have.

9. MAKE PLANS TO LEAVE WORK

Stop working 30 minutes before you really want to get out of the office. Use that time to organize your desk, go over what you accomplished, and create a to-do list for the next day.

10. DON'T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION

"At a certain point, you have to let a project go, even if it's not exactly what you wanted," Marotta says. "The time and energy you'd have to invest to take it from 85 percent to absolutely perfect is not always worth it. Once you accept you can't be the best every time, it takes a lot of pressure off."

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