Take a break from the news. Turn off the TV. Shut down your laptop. Stack those newspapers and magazines in the corner. "Sometimes you need to take a temporary vacation from world events to clear your head, reduce your worries, and put your life in perspective," says Richard Blonna, a professor at William Patterson University in New York who specializes in stress management. Try it out for a week, and don't feel guilty: "Most of the important stories will still be around next week, and if not, you can go back and read them," Blonna says.
Climb a tree. It's active. It's playful. It's fun. So make like a monkey and go swing from that oak tree. When you're back on ground level, you'll be exhilarated—not stressed.
Mow the lawn. Bad day? Hop on the lawn mower. The smell of freshly cut grass makes you feel more relaxed, research suggests—likely by blocking the release of stress hormones in the brain. Bonus: Not only will you be de-stressing, but you can check a chore off your to-do list, too.
Swear like a sailor. Research suggests that swearing minimizes stress and increases workplace camaraderie. So, what the hell: Curse up a storm, release those high-stress emotions, and then continue about your business.
Make faces. Friedman calls it "pass the mask." Enlist a friend and make outrageous faces at each other, or use a mirror instead. There's a very good chance you'll be laughing—quickly. Keep going until you're feeling relaxed and more at ease.
Learn to play again. Jump on a trampoline. Go rollerblading. Blow bubbles. Take a walk on some stilts. Spend 10 minutes hula-hooping. "Do what you really enjoy, not what you think you should do," Blonna says. And don't play to win at all costs, or impress bystanders. Your only goal should be to let loose and have fun.
Create an "absurdity library." The world is an absurd and humorous place—but we tend to forget that absurdity during stressful times. Create your own personal absurdity library: Compile cartoons, song lyrics, letters from friends, advertisements, photographs, and videos; ideally, these should have personal meaning to you. Add to your collection daily. "Whenever you feel the need, stop what you're doing and go to your absurdity library," Blonna says.