Nine Tips for Surviving Tumultuous Times

01/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

1. Reconnect with your favorite spiritual/religious practice. Showing up at temple, church, or mosque can be especially rewarding if you have not been for a while. A unique perspective on your purpose in life is available there, as are connections to a neighborhood community.

2. Take a free, mini-vacation and disappear for a few hours. A visit to a park, the beach, or a nearby open space offers an opportunity to breathe deeply and reconnect with nature, to sense a timeless world that stands apart from the frenzies we create and the foibles we commit.

3. Take a mental inventory of those family members and friends who provide your personal emotional support system and then reach out to them. Don't worry so much about how they can help you; focus instead on you can help them. The act of giving creates chemicals in your brain that will help calm you down and make you feel better.

4. Get some vigorous aerobic exercise. There's nothing better for the blues than a good dose of endorphins, and nothing calms anxiety and tames fear faster than getting out there for a walk, a jog, a swim, or a visit to the gym. Push it hard enough to pant a bit, but go easy if you've not exercised in a while. Be sure and stretch your body before and after to avoid injury.

5. Start a mind/body program. Meditation helps you learn to watch yourself in a most helpful way, and yoga helps work the stress out of your muscles and joints. Best of all is tai chi, which does both.

6. Check a good novel out of the library, turn off the phone and curl up with it. There's nothing wrong with disappearing into fiction for a while. Stay with fiction, though. Choosing one more book about global warming, terrorism, or the financial meltdown is just going to worry you more.

7. Start a creative project. Anything that uses your creativity, imagination and passion can help you transcend your world and put problems into perspective. Writing, painting, sculpting, woodworking, even graphic arts on the computer are all good choices.

8. Revisit a place from your past or check in with a friend from school. Perhaps there's someone you've been meaning to call, or a restaurant you've wanted to visit because you remember a good meal you had there years ago. Seeing how things both change and remain the same can broaden your perspective in invaluable ways and help turn today's mountains into molehills.

9. Watch what you eat. When we are preoccupied we are more likely to consume sugar, which increase our swings of mood. If you like caffeine, stay with tea for a smoother "ride". Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh fish. Avoid large, heavy meals, dairy foods and foods high in fat. Eat often but lightly to keep your energy up and your mind clear and to avoid the doldrums. Drink plenty of water, too. Dehydration fogs thinking.