Paradoxically, research shows that exposing yourself to negative experiences can make it easier for you to unwind. People with anxiety are more sensitive to sharp shifts in mental states, such as going from peaceful to worried, explains study author Hanjoo Kim, MS, a doctoral student in the psychology department at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Calm settings can therefore perpetuate anxiety because they expose you to potential emotional rollercoasters. This defense mechanism can leave you in a constantly stressed, activated state, Kim notes, making it hard to enjoy things like yoga or meditation. You could try intentionally alternating stressful and peaceful activities (like deep breathing) to get your mind used to the emotional shifts. 


Some people see self-care as synonymous with recovery. But for those who crave a cycling class after a stressful day or find rejuvenation in a challenging bodyweight circuit, these practices can seem sleepy.

For example, athletes who prioritize fast-twitch muscle fibers and excel in short bursts of all-out exercise might feel more restored after sprints than they do post-meditation, says Alex Zimmerman, vice president of PT programming and development. The real key, however, is in varying your self-care routine, pairing claiming with stimulating practices to get the most out of both.

Here are a few examples:

1. Sprints + belly breathing

2. HIIT + a contrast shower

3. Meditation + Tabata


Popular in France, pastis is an apértitif. This version steeps star anise, fennel, coriander, and turmeric in a licorice root tea, which is thought to calm the body’s adrenal glands to reduce stress and anxiety, says Laura Rege, a New York City-based recipe developer. A dash of turmeric gives the drink a pretty orange hue.

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour cooling time.


2 bags licorice root tea

5 star anise pods

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

¼ teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon agave syrup

2 cups boiling water

1 cup, 2 tablespoons sparkling mineral water

4 lemon wedges


1. In a large measuring cup or pitcher, add tea bags, star anise, turmeric, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and agave. Pour in boiling water; let steep 10 minutes.

2. Transfer to the refrigerator and cool completely, about 1 hour. Pour into four cups, and top with mineral water. Stir, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.

Photography by Armando Rafael. Food and prop styling by Ali Nardi.

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