It's been a stressful year in my household, and I've learned to survive in this turbulent, stressful world, you need some excellent stress busters! I took a stress management class in college, and have combined what I learned there with what I've learned going through my own stress, and have put the best of the best (for me, at least) here. :)
Go to a quiet place where you can sit, close your eyes, and concentrate on just your breathing. Slow it to a slow, calm rhythm. Envision a point of light in the darkness behind your eyelids. As you watch the point of light, let it grow, larger and larger, until you find yourself in your special place. For me, the special place is standing on a hillside opposite a mountain of pines. The wind through the pines brings a quiet whisper to me that all will be well. I listen to the breeze reassuring me, and give myself to the wind, leaning into it, and feeling it buoy me up. I stay in this place until I feel totally relaxed and calm, and then slowly retreat back into my conscious mind to "wake up."
When all the stress is pent-up and ready for release, find a good pillow, put it over your mouth, and let it ALL out. Scream and scream until you feel exhausted. It's a great outlet for the stress. This is named for the theory that our first extremely stressful experience was our birth, and babies come out screaming. It's a very natural response to stress, and is really very helpful when used.
I have two forms of exercise I love: spinning and Zumba. On the spin bike, I set the resistance to a comfortable level, pop in my earbuds, turn on my MP3 player, and start slow and then build up to as fast as I can go until I feel the endorphine rush and the ensuing release of pent-up stress. In Zumba, there are so many positive, happy people all dancing, laughing, and working out stress that you can't help but leave feeling much happier than you were when you arrived.
When there is someone else causing my stress, I cook something that I can beat (like punching bread dough or slapping my food chopper repeatedly). I feel better after pulverizing the food, and then my family and I get to enjoy the end result--yummy food!
This one has been awhile since I don't have access to a piano, but I used to choose a music selection that fit my mood (In the Hall of the Mountain King was a great one for stress) and pound it out on the piano, and then would move to either soothing or bouncy/happy tunes. I improved my piano skills and felt much better when done.
Selective Muscle Relaxation
Lay on your back in a comfortable, darkened place. Tighten your toes, then relax them. Focusing on keeping them relaxed, tighten your other foot muscles, then relax them. Keeping your entire feet relaxed, tighten your ankle muscles, then relax them. Move up to tightening your calves, while keeping your feet and ankles relaxed. Continue to move all the way up to your face and ears, while keeping relaxed the muscles you've already released the stress from. Once your entire body is relaxed, just lay there for awhile enjoying being completely relaxed.
Stimulates your happy center in your brain. Need I say more? ;)