It's hectic out there, so brew yourself a cup of tea, sit back and take a load off with these five feel-good, stress-relieving sources:
1. Slow Movement: In the whirlwind of daily commutes, long work hours, and overscheduling, slow living offers an oasis of calm. Head over to this site and learn how practitioners of the Slow Movement are re-ordering their priorities and re-connecting with their communities. You may be inspired to explore the international initiative's offshoots, from slow parenting and slow reading to slow education and slow fashion.
2. Petfinder: They're tireless listeners, court jesters, and staunch allies who love us unconditionally. No wonder animals are potent stress relievers. Indeed, studies say owning a pet can lower blood pressure, alleviate loneliness, and boost immunity.
If you are truly committed to caring for a pet and ready to give one in need a loving, safe home for his or her lifetime, you'll gain a loyal sidekick, a constant companion, and a cherished friend that can profoundly enrich your life. Petfinder features homeless animals from tens of thousands of adoption groups across the country.
Remember to do your research before adopting: Read up thoroughly on the responsibilities of pet care and gather information about the type of animal you are interested in. The Petfinder generator tool can help narrow your search by animal type, breed, and location. And be sure to access Petfinder's library of helpful tips before - and after -- bringing home your newest floppy-eared or purr-happy family member.
Music lovers may want to start tuning out tension with this online radio site. With over 800,000 songs to choose from, visitors can expand their music palettes, select a different genre each day, or mix it up with a hodgepodge of artists. Tell Pandora what your favorite artists or songs are, and it will create a personalized playlist that also includes similar selections. Type in John Williams, for instance, and in addition to the maestro of cinema, you'll be treated to Aaron Copeland, Erich Korngold, Jerry Goldsmith, and Maurice Ravel, to name a few.
4. LibraryThing: Line some virtual bookshelves with your favorite volumes and put your feet up with other bibliophiles who share your enthusiasm for e.e. cummings or fascination with Finnish folklore.
More than an online book repository by leaps and bounds, this habit-forming cataloging and social networking site invites members to post descriptive tags, rate their latest reads, subscribe to book-watch lists, and share musings with kindred spirits. Visitors may log up to 200 books for free or as many as they choose for $10 a year or $25 for a lifetime.
5. Comics: A good belly laugh - or even a modest chortle - is a well-known crusader against stress. When we chuckle, we release feel-good endorphins that help dissolve tension. What's more, Mayo Clinic research claims there may be other reasons to be happy: Laughing it up may help relieve pain and bolster the immune system.
Try starting your day off in good company with this cast of cut-ups from over 90 comic strips. You can also add widgets from the site's extensive collection to your MySpace, Friendster, or other social network page and pass along the cheer.