So what if you don’t feel like singing carols during the holidays but want to strangle the shopping mall Santa instead? Well, when the holidays don’t feel jolly, fall back on these magical stress relievers. These ten magical methods were picked back in April of this year from all the great reader suggestions we received in our poll, and they are even more appropriate to ward off stress during the holiday season. Enjoy!

1. HOT BATH or Shower with Aromatherapy: By far the favorite stress relieving technique! Most of you picked up on the flowing qualities of water, which can carry away stress, tension, headaches, fatigue and other signs of stress. Some of you used essential oils (lavender and calendula being the faves) while others put herbs in muslin bags for the bath. Other suggestions included lighting candles or playing flowing music in the background. Mmmmm, sounds great!

2. MEDITATION: From simple deep breathing to actual chakra balancing meditations, the variety was tremendous. The simplest and most effective ones we tested included deep breathing for 5 minutes, meditation by staring at a candle flame (this one is great if you have trouble meditating), meditating with a singing bowl and guided meditation with an audio tape. Other meditations which were great, but which took more concentration, included chakra balancing meditations, white light meditations and energy meditations (moving energy up, down and around the body). Of all the meditations we field tested, our favorite advanced meditation, thanks to Bethany, is to do a little out of body astral travel, an astral vacation or “travel nap” as she calls it. Thanks Bethany, that was fun and relaxing!

3. CONNECTING with Nature: Lots of suggestions in this area. We field tested techniques to connect with trees, rocks, the earth (called rooting by some), the skies, the galaxies way out there and more. Our favorites included sitting back against a tree and letting all the tension be absorbed by the tree and ground into the earth through the roots. We also felt the straight rooting technique (extending your own roots) into the earth and letting tension flow out was very effective. Whether you connect with wind, sun, sky, earth, trees or flowers, Nature has a way of reminding you who you are and what you’re doing here. Connecting with Nature is a quick way to relieve stress. Nature is simply magical!

4. CRYSTALS and Stones: We just loved these. From obsidian to hematite to amethyst crystals, we tried them all. We tried holding crystals on the third eye, flowing negative emotions into hematite and carrying obsidian stones around in our pockets. Our field testing shows that obsidian and hematite (especially specular hematite) are the best for absorbing negative emotions, which are usually excess fire energy. Crystals also work well, especially during meditation, with amethyst being the least likely to be “contaminated” by negative energies. If you work with crystals, we suggest you cleanse them regularly (by smudging or four element cleansing) or bury them in your garden for 30 days or so at regular intervals. Also, store your crystals in pewter boxes to prevent energy contamination.

5. MUSIC and Sound: So many of you touched on the positive effects of sound and music! Did you know that some alternative and tribal healers use only sound for healing? Sound has the ability to move and touch us on so many levels that it’s a definite magical stress reliever. Some of you listened to jazz in front of your altars while others meditated to the soft strains of Enya. Others hopped in the car and blasted negative energies away to the rhythms of rock music (still others preferred driving to soft music on back country roads). From singing bowls to chimes and bells, the effect of sound can definitely relieve stress. We found flowing music carried away stress while energetic music literally burned it off and energized us. Singing bowls and meditation bells brought us back to center. Drumming connected us with the earth. Sound can do wonders to relieve stress.

6. TALK to the Universe: When stress is piling up and there’s nothing else to do, some of you suggested talking to the Universe. We did — and it worked! Some of you talked to the Universe as you would any other person, conversationally. Others of you went outside, stood on a hill, and shouted and shook your fists until you made sure you were heard. Still others made a list of wishes and tucked that list safely on your altars. When we field tested these and other approaches, we liked them all. It seems the Universe hears us no matter how we talk, and responds. It doesn’t care if we shout or whisper, it hears us. Hmmmmm… sounds like the Universe is pretty friendly and tolerant after all!

7. MOVE, Move, Move: Walking, running, biking, swimming… so many of you used movement to relieve stress, and rightly so! When negative energies are lodged in our subtle bodies, one of the best ways to move them out is by moving our bodies. It’s the law of “as above, so below.” What we do with our bodies automatically happens to the rest of us. Can’t move negative energies out? Just move your body! It worked great. Our favorite field tested suggestion was walking or hiking by running water. Water is such a great carrier of energy that we felt both refreshed and relieved of negative energies. Also, we found that the more negative energy we had and the more stuck it was, the longer or faster we needed to move our bodies. We also loved this stress reliever because you can do it anywhere, anytime. Some of the staff even tried it in the aisle of an airplane during a long flight!

8. RESCUE Remedy: The good old standby. What a great stress reliever! This flower essence, created by Bach Flower Remedies, can relieve anything from ruffled feathers to an actual heart attack (it literally restarted a friend’s heart during a heart attack). Some of you keep this on your altars and others carry it around in purses and pockets. Wherever you store it, keep it handy. It can relieve stress on all levels with just a few drops! Some of you also suggested adding 4 drops to drinking water and sipping on that water all day when under great stress. Great idea!

9. FLOW Fire: Some of the suggestions in this department were highly creative! Excess fire energy can be pain, anger, frustration, tension and stress. We don’t recommend any but the safest, but we did field test almost all of these. Whether you’re talking about lighting a candle with your fire energy (no matches here) or just flowing excess anger and tension into an electrical outlet, getting rid of fire energy can really help relieve stress. We don’t suggest setting anything on fire, but you can place your hands on a stove or refrigerator when you’re angry and just flow all that junky energy out. Flow only into large appliances or electrical outlets, never into your computer or small electrical devices (you’ll fry them!).

10. CANDLES: Oh, the suggestions about candles were so great we could hardly stop lighting candles during the field testing! Candles are great for infusing any space with a particular kind of energy. For instance, yellows, oranges and reds are great for increasing energy. We found that pastel colors like light blue, pink, pale yellow and pale green worked great for calming and stress relief. Pink was especially good for unconditional love, light green for connection with who we are, and light blue for spiritual understanding. Candles are safe to use and impart specific energies gently. We hope you have as much fun with them as we did for stress relief! One last bit… yellow candles burned at night (in glass, of course), were great for keeping away nightmares.