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Stress Management Health Center

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6 Surprising Stress Fixes

Strategy 4: Put the kettle on

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world (after water); even coffee-worshipping Americans guzzle more than 2 billion gallons of tea a year. Part of the appeal may be its tension-taming powers. In a recent study, scientists at University College London noted that people who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks had lower levels of cortisol after a stressful task than those who drank a caffeinated fruit beverage. Research also shows that a substance in green tea leaves, L-Theanine, may shift brain wave activity from the beta waves that accompany anxiety to the alpha waves associated with relaxation. Maxine Friedman, 43, of New York City, the mother of 7-year-old twin girls, builds tea breaks into her busiest days. She finds the ritual as calming as the beverage. "I start relaxing even before I start to drink — at the sound of the kettle, the feel of the cup in my hand," she says.

Strategy 5: Loosen your electronic leash

Thanks to high-tech gadgets, your kids can reach you 24/7. Knowing where they are and what they're up to? Priceless. But there's a hidden cost. A two-year study of 1,367 working men and women in New York State, two-thirds of them parents, found that all were overburdened by a blurring of the divide between the workplace and home. But while both men and women reported bringing job-related worries home with them, only women felt stress because of home worries spilling over into the workplace. Researchers speculate that cell phones and pagers are responsible for this blurring of boundaries. "When your kids have a crisis or a relative gets sick, it's usually the women, not the men, who get the call at work," says Noelle Chesley, a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the study's author. She suggests you take turns with your spouse being "on call" for minor emergencies, and make sure the sitter and the school have his number as well as yours. You may have to retrain the kids, too.

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