I think everyone needs these kinds of symbolic tokens (a Gumby to represent flexibility, a kaleidoscope to represent new vision, even a beautiful postcard) to remind us of all we dream of, and to take us to a calmer place. If collecting stones, shells or tchotchkes doesn't sound appealing, why not try these expert-tested shortcuts to serenity:
Doing simple movements again and again—I like doing leg stretches—can help distract you and lull you into a calmer state.
When you're feeling frazzled, inspire a smile by holding a pen between your teeth, which tricks your brain into grinning mode. You'll instantly feel happier and more relaxed. (Sometimes it's OK to fake it till you make it.)
Vividly imagine a soothing object or scene, including sounds, images and aromas. The more pleasant your picture, the more your tension will dissipate. (I like to imagine the view of the bay in front of my little house in Long Island.)
Stretch it out
I like to do this stress-relieving stretch after I've been hunched over my keyboard, furiously answering e-mail. Extend your arms forward at chest level, rotating your right arm to the left (so your palm faces out). Use your left hand to bend right fingers back. Hold for 10 seconds; switch hands and repeat.