by The Urbaness
As much as our hearts belong to Chicago, there are times when city-living seems intent on spiking our blood pressure. Between wailing sirens, gridlock traffic, and the ever-prompt (see: sarcasm) CTA, our day-in and day-out can leave us frazzled and running on empty. So for all the days you’ve had it up to here, The Urbaness now has your answer. Read on for six tips for finding calm and balance, reinvigorating your soul, and reveling in some good old fashioned r&r.

Get moving
It seems counterintuitive to suggest getting all riled up to calm down, but there’s truth to it, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Exercise can be our greatest defense against anxiety and stress, releasing mood-boosting endorphins to bring about a calmer, happier you. Hit the gym—or better yet, take your exercise routine outside. Take a stroll through one of Chicago’s magnificent parks, lapping up the fresh air and taking in the rainbow-colored blooms of summer while we’ve still got ‘em. Bonus: We’ve heard the rhythm of walking triggers both the right and left brain—allowing for clearer, calmer thinking.

Slip out of the workday
A simple thing, sure, but stepping out of the day’s pencil skirt and into something a bit more comfortable can do wonders for ushering calm and serenity into your evening. When you hang up the day’s ensemble, envision hanging up its stresses too. Then go one step further, pulling out all the stops with the summer loungewear of our dreams. Pop by Bucktown’s G Boutique for their selection of Eberjey favorites. There’s a reason they sell so well at G!

In a world where we’re constantly connected, we’re bombarded with the beeps, buzzes, and blings of a host of electronic devices. Go off the grid for an hour or two, vowing not to Tweet, Facebook, text message, or check your email. Instead, remember what it’s like to not be illuminated by the light of an LCD screen. Breathe in and soak up time that’s truly yours. Winding down for bed? Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and enjoy the soothing flicker of candlelight. Our go-to? The beautiful array of Illume candles we always find stocked at The Fig Tree in the West Loop.

There’s no better way to forget your troubles than by diving into a story about someone else’s. Get lost in a good book (check our latest reading list for our hand-picked selections), cozy up to a favorite movie, or flip through the entries on one of our favorite websites, Times Are Tough All Over. Based in Chicago, this beautifully bare-bones site compiles readers’ answers to the question “How are you getting by?” At times both heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, these super short answers will remind you of your own connectedness, spark a feeling of kinship with others, and give you that ever-perfect gift of perspective.

Get your OM on
Find literal peace of mind through meditation. Start slow, setting out to sit still and quietly for five minutes. Simply observe your breathing and as thoughts bubble up in your mind, softly guide them away from you. Need structure? Scan i-Tunes for guided meditation apps and timers, listen to our guided meditation audio track, or appeal to the experts at a Chicago studio such as Zen Life and Meditation Center. Not ready for meditation? Our go-to technique for calming down is as simple as breathing: Sit up straight with your hands gently resting on your stomach. As you breathe in deeply for four slow counts, feel your belly beneath your hands expand. Keep your shoulders and chest still as you hold that breath for four counts. Breathe out, release, and begin again.

Hand it to the pros
When the situation calls for it, hand your troubles over to a professional. Or at least get pampered while you forget about what’s been weighing you down. We love Chicago Touch for its affordable massages—not to mention the sweet calm we find just sitting in its tranquil waiting room! For a relaxing facial, head to Wicker Park’s Lustre Skin Boutique, where an all-organic lineup will have your skin glowing in no time. For deeper healing, explore the idea of acupuncture. The women behind Sage Community Health are kind and gentle enough to ease any needle fears.