Helpful Hints for Handling Stress


We all experience daily stressors to some degree, and in small doses this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, stress can be beneficial, giving you that extra push of energy you need to get things done. But if stress lasts a long time, it can contribute to health problems, like headaches and chronic health conditions, and affect your memory and mood. The good news is that there are healthy actions you can take to manage stress and cope well.

When managing stress, it’s important to differentiate between a stressor and stress. A challenge or situation that places a physical or mental demand on you is a stressor. Stress is your reaction to the stressor. We don’t always have control of our stressors, but we do have control over our stress. It’s also important to know what your stressors are and how you typically cope – that way you can find strategies that work for you.

Get a handle on your stress with these helpful hints:

  • Tackle the issues that are causing your stress. Learn what triggers your stress (your stressors) and accept that you cannot control everything. Journaling can be an effective way to understand your thoughts and feelings and to identify what exactly is causing your stress.
  • Prioritize your time. Take time to reflect on your priorities. Decide what must be done and what can wait. Make a realistic plan on what you can accomplish for the day and practice self-compassion and forgiveness if you don’t check off everything from your to-do list.
  • Take breaks. Take breaks throughout the day so that your body and mind can reset and better cope with stress. Get outside. Take time to eat lunch away from your work. Take a break from news and social media. Take time off work or away from usual responsibilities to completely reset. You’ll find you feel more satisfied with your work and other aspects of your life when you take breaks to reset and start anew.
  • Build mental resilience. Being mindful of how you engage your mind makes a difference. Practicing open communication, positive self-talk and gratitude can provide a foundation for dealing with stress. Cultivate a sense of humor and do your best to ground yourself and live in the present so that stress doesn’t get the best of you.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep restores your body and brain, helping you process the day’s information and emotions and repairs your brain cells. A lack of sleep can increase stress hormones. High-quality sleep can help to reduce the impact of stress hormones on your body. It’s recommended that most adults receive at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  • Eat regular well-balanced meals. Don’t skip meals. Your body needs sustenance to give it the energy it needs to deal with life’s stressors.
  • Be active! Any activity that gets your heart pumping helps to reduce stress. Exercise produces feel-good hormones, like endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel happy and less stressed. Just 30 minutes a day of walking will do it.
  • Connect with others. Build a support network, talk out your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend, or join a support group.
  • Try these techniques. Try practicing deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or yoga to help create calmness. Working with a therapist and engaging in the arts are also proven ways to cope with stress.

While they may provide temporary relief, drinking alcohol in excess, using drugs, sleeping too much, and walking away from responsibilities are not effective long-term stress relief techniques – they can actually do more harm than good.

It’s important to seek help when you are struggling to cope. Find a therapist or speak to your doctor about getting the help you need. If you are in crisis, call, or text the confidential Suicide and Crisis lifeline at 988.

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