Remember when, during the summertime, the livin' was easy? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Stress is a year-round reality, though the source may vary. "For some women, it's family issues, while others can't escape the pressures that work puts on their lives," said Regina Mendoza, a clinical psychologist in Miami. And the trigger can shift, too: Today it may be your credit-card balance; tomorrow, your mother's health problems.
Experts such as Mendoza say you can fine-tune stress relief so that it fits you as well as your favorite summer capris, matching the most effective stress-buster to your particular hot button. This quiz can help you figure out what really sets you off and the solution so you can finally put your feet up and waggle your toes in those balmy breezes.
When it comes to money, you are . . .
A • Paralyzed with worry, wondering how you'll pay for the new roof or your kids' college tuition
B • Sometimes tense as you mull over your retirement savings
C • Pretty sure that no one at your house will starve
If you chose "A," you're a fiscal fretter. "B" choosers control their fears better, while "C" selectors probably sleep best. But the "C"s are in the minority: Recent surveys of 1,278 women from market-research firm Polaris found that money continues to be the single biggest source of stress in the lives of women. It was named No. 1 by 54 percent to 59 percent.
"Whenever we catch ourselves running something through our minds, especially a thing that may or may not happen, it's important to disengage," said George Slavich,a stress researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. Women who answered "A" or "B" may want to look into mindful meditation.
When you leave work, you . . .
A • Might as well still be there
B • Frequently think about memos you need to finish
C • Focus on your family and answer only urgent emails
If you picked "C," you've focused on a healthy balance. But if you chose "A" or "B," you shouldn't feel bad separating work from your home life can be very difficult. "We need buffers to protect us from job stress," said Ellen Kossek,a professor at Purdue University. "With cellphones and email, the work-free zone is shrinking. And some women just can't manage the transition."
Stress remedy . . .
Even a little mindful meditation can help ease some of your day-to-day stress.
Don't worry: You don't have to find 20 minutes in your already overscheduled day to sit still and breathe. Researchers have shown that as little as three minutes is enough to make a stress-relieving difference. Even "small bursts of mindfulness" help, Slavich said. "I like to walk around and focus on things that catch my attention, like flowers, the wind or other people."
On another matter . . .
Looking for an easy and healthy way to add antioxidants to your diet other than berries? Incorporating basil into your diet is a great way to stay well, eat right and get fit. Not only does fresh basil add spark when used in caprese salad, pesto and soup, it's also full of disease-fighting antioxidants and essential oils. For the biggest health boost, savor it fresh - researchers recently found that a third or more of basil's polyphenols may be lost when the herb is dried. (Of course, dry basil still is a healthy choice if the fresh version is out of season.)