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Take care of yourself for a change!

Midday

Chat with a stranger. While picking up dry cleaning or waiting in line, strike up a conversation with someone. Acting extroverte -- talkative, assertive, adventurous -- makes people happier, even if they're not naturally gregarious, according to research at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dream a little dream. A mental escape sounds nice, but if it's hard to get (and stay) in the groove, try this:

  • Head to a quiet corner (or the bathroom, even!).
  • Sit or lie comfortably, shrug your shoulders up, and let them sink back down.
  • Close your eyes, breathe deeply, then exhale.
  • Go for it: Bring back that afternoon on the lake, the breeze through the pines in the country...

You'll feel refreshed because even an imaginary getaway can trigger an on-vacation vibe, says Eric Klinger, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota, Morris and author of Daydreaming.

Say "maybe." Next time someone asks you to pitch in for a block party or preschool fund-raiser, do this reality check from psychologist Ellen McGrath, Ph.D., president of the Bridge Coaching Institute in New York City: From 1 to 10 (with 10 being "a lot"), rate the cost in time, energy, and stress if you say yes. Then rate the benefits of saying yes. If the benefits beat the cost, take it on. If not, decline nicely. Ahh. That felt good!

Take a tea break. A cup of black tea daily can help you rise above everyday stresses by lowering stress hormones and making you more relaxed.

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