9 Ways to Cope With Stress
Stress can take a toll on both your emotional and physical health. Use these 9 strategies to scale back stress in your life.

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Picture of man meditating 9 Ways to Cope With Stress

How many times have you heard it or said it yourself: "I'm so busy I can hardly catch my breath"?

It's become a modern-day mantra as so many of us find ourselves trying to balance the demands of work and family. As a result, we feel stressed out, overwhelmed, out of steam.

Living with stress can take a toll on both your emotional and physical health. If you're struggling with stress, try these 9 strategies to help get it under control:

  1. Look for ways to avoid stress. Try to see less of people who get on your nerves. Ask about adjusting your hours to avoid rush-hour traffic.
  2. Say no. If you're too busy, you don't have to serve on the PTA or lead the Cub Scout troop this year. Give yourself permission to take back some time for yourself.
  3. Give up. Some things are beyond your control. Look at the things that cause you stress. If you can't change them, try to stop worrying about them.
  4. Make time for joy in your life. Do things that give you pleasure or help you feel more peaceful. Spend time with people who make you laugh. Play with your pet or go for a walk in the park. Look for the beauty in the moment - a bird outside your window, the flowers in your garden, a baby's smile.
  5. Get some exercise. Physical activity is a great stress-buster that's good for your heart. Find something you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or biking. But always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
  6. Create a retreat. Make a place where you can get away from it all, even if it's just for a few minutes. Take a warm, scented bath. Put on some soothing music, close your eyes, and let yourself relax.
  7. Relax your standards. Perfectionism can be a major source of stress. Ease up on yourself. Aim for good enough, not perfect.
  8. Beware of unhealthy quick fixes. Drinking too much, smoking, or overeating won't make things better and may make you feel worse. Instead, focus on healthy meals and getting enough rest.
  9. Get it out. Talk to trusted friends or find a support group. It may not change the situation, but expressing your feelings can often help you feel better. If you're overwhelmed, get professional help. Talk to a counselor or your doctor.
By Lila Havens, Staff Writer
Created on 07/13/2000
Updated on 05/13/2011
Sources:
  • American Institute of Stress. Stress reduction, stress relievers.
  • Mental Health America. Managing life's pressures.
  • American Heart Association. Fight stress with healthy habits.
  • HelpGuide.org. Understanding stress.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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