1. Reinterpret a negative experience – Say you leave your headphones in the car when you go to the gym. Interpret the return trip to the car not as an irritant but as a chance to warm up before you even climb on the treadmill.
2. Give to someone else – Doing something nice for others can make you happier and calmer, studies show.
3. Jot down attainable goals – for the week and aim to achieve one every day. This is a great way to track what’s going right.
4. Build social support – Brain scans show that the same circuitry fires up when we feel emotional pain as when we feel physical pain. But that circuitry is slower to react in those with greater social support in their daily lives.
5. Notice at least one good thing – you experience each day. Then make it “real” by telling someone about it or writing it down. The event can be as small as getting out of bed on time.
6. Meditate – Meditation can actually alter our brains, increasing gray matter in regions associated with emotion regulation and dampening activity in the fear-responsive amygdala.
7. Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest angst inducers—it causes stress hormones to soar and sparks other imbalances.
8. Exercise regularly – Exercise works as a mild or “good” stressor: One hundred and fifty minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week is linked with both reduced stress levels and increased growth of new brain cells.