The 6 Most Stressful Times of the Day
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Your simmer-down plan: If you find that you truly dread your alarm, consider a gradual-awakening alarm, like a wakeup light, which slowly illuminates the room to rouse you. Or use a health tracker like Jawbone Up that nudges you with vibrations when you're in a lighter stage of sleep. (And if you're taking a midday nap and don't have anywhere pressing to be, consider setting no alarm at all. The researchers in the study found that 71 percent of young people and 90 percent of older people can wake themselves up "relatively punctually" after a short snooze—and that's far easier on the heart.)
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Your simmer-down plan: Eat a stress-relieving breakfast as kind of a preemptive strike. One study in PNAS found that mice who were fed yogurt in the morning exhibited less anxiety and depression, likely because the good-for-you probiotic bacteria regulate certain brain neurotransmitters that rule mood.
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Your simmer-down plan: A 2013 Swedish study suggests that feeling satisfied with your commute—being entertained or social while on the road, rather than feeling bored or like you're wasting time—improves overall happiness. "Listening to all the bad news on the news only drives down your mood and makes travel time feel worse," says clinical psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, the author of Better Than Perfect. Instead, catch up (hands-free if you're in the car) with someone positive in your life or listen to something that makes you feel as if your time is well spent, like a compelling podcast or audiobook.
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Your simmer-down plan: You know the drill—keep healthy snacks around for those rough hours and come up with a strategy to deal with the stressor that sends you to the vending machine. If your office is the root of your unease, here's one strategy: Planning tonight how you'll react in the future to combative coworkers, villainous underminers or a meeting with your boss that you dread ("If this happens, I'll say/do this...") can help you cope with stress, suggests 2015 research in the Journals of Gerontology.
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Your simmer-down plan: Avoid outdoor exercise in the afternoon to quell potential flares. Follow the other tips in this list—a 2014 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that emotional stress can set off an allergy attack.
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Your simmer-down plan: The researchers explain that women in search of a greater work-life balance may think about leaving the workforce, but the study shows that this decision can backfire. Instead, if you're struggling, they suggest trying to add flexibility into your schedule. For example, check with your boss if telecommuting one day a week (even every other week) is doable. And, of course, see how you and your partner can find support for each other—if hiring a babysitter or housecleaner isn't an option, maybe band together with other over-stretched parents with kids in the same class as yours to host a study group that rotates between houses—giving one another a break a few nights a week.