Frazzled by stress? Follow these tips to lower that blood pressure and regain your balance:

You glance at your watch - 6:33am. You bolt out of the house so quickly that your cat is still attached to your pant leg (note: hem is now partially removed). First things first - remove cat (place gently back into apartment), then, deal with hem (remove excess string and tie remainder in a knot). Run yourself, your luggage, carry-on and laptop to the metro. Never mind that the air is made of 5% "air" and 95% humidity; it's only your hair that will suffer. On the up-side, you are conditioning your body for July running weather. That is never an easy task. Get to airport, print out boarding pass, run to gate, hop on plane and then:
  • Face the facts: you are on-board an airplane. No one can contact you and no one can force you to make small talk if you immediately attach your iPod to your head. Take out your book, bottle of water and snack bag. Read like there is no tomorrow. For the next two hours, no one can you deny you this pleasure.
  • If need be, knock back an in-flight cocktail. Everyone loves mini bottles of vodka.

Your family visit begins with an immediate third degree, followed by a cross examination from your Grandmother, followed by a three-person all talking over one another recap when your late uncle joins the party. It truly doesn't get better than this. Your blood is boiling, you begin craving a gimlet at 10am and you can feel a lash-out diatribe forming in your head. Regroup, put on a smile and:

  • Start counting down the time when you can get a workout in - preferably running or kick-boxing.
  • Laugh along with your family and remember, they are only grilling you because your physical presence coincides with the annual eclipse. Turn the tables (in a nice way) - start asking questions back (preferably, changing the subject). Ask about distant cousins, the upcoming family reunion, gossip, etc.
  • Reminisce - Everyone loves to remember the time, when you were two, and you took off your party dress and danced about in your nudeness at your cousin's wedding.
  • Walk out of the room - make a phone call, walk around the block, get coffee - just get out. Fresh perspective, even removing yourself for five minutes, can make a huge difference.


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