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6 Strategies for Managing Stress

Things you can do today to help ease daily stressors.

Key points

  • Though it may seem like the heightened convenience of the modern world should reduce our stress, many of us are more stressed than ever.
  • Not every stressor is within our control. But we have more control over our stress than we often think.
  • Identifying your stressors and practicing common-sense stress reduction strategies can help you live a more positive, energized life.
Young woman experiencing a stress free day
Source: deagreez/Bigstock

Has modern technology and your ability to access infinite amounts of information and entertainment brought less or more stress into your life? Notice I did not say “more convenience” but “more stress.”

Sure, we can buy everything we want online—clothes, computers, and cars—and yes, it’s convenient. But has it made our lives more peaceful?

Most of us would agree that emotional energy has become a precious commodity in our lives. When we feel emotionally depleted, then anxiety and stress are the natural by-products. Left unchecked, stress can lead to feelings of being out of control.

As a result, stress can prompt us to seek temporary relief in unhealthy habits that create more stress in the long run. Turning to alcohol, comfort food, or overspending might provide temporary relief and distraction, but these things greatly complicate our lives.

Not everything that causes us stress can be eliminated—nor should it. Low-level stress stimulates the brain to boost productivity and concentration. It can also be a big motivator to make changes, solve problems, or accomplish goals.

In addition, many sources of stress are simply beyond our control. That said, there are plenty of stressors we can control. Here are six good strategies for you to begin practicing immediately.

1. Identify Your Stressors

Make a list of the factors in your life that contribute to your stress. Do you have relationship tension and troubles? What about unhealthy habits you use to escape or avoid dealing with issues? Maybe you have past regrets that affect the present, or you lack the ability to forgive yourself or others.

By understanding what creates stress in your life, you can begin to address those things and move toward healing.

2. Stop Procrastinating

This is a simple—though not easy—way to relieve pressure. Whether you are an occasional procrastinator or a serial procrastinator, your delays and avoidance amp up your stress levels.

3. Keep Your Balance

Protecting your time from overcommitments that are within your control isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most effective things you can do to reduce stress.

4. Avoid Negative Escapes

When we are stressed, it’s tempting to turn to excessive eating, spending, or substance abuse. That’s because we want to do something to change our mood! Of course, the list of unhelpful and unhealthy escapes could go on and on. Negative escapes only spread negativity throughout your entire life.

5. Break Out of Isolation

Studies show that supportive relationships are essential to improving how we experience and process stress. In fact, loneliness is linked not only to depression, but also to health problems including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. Other studies show that people who are involved in faith communities tend to have lower levels of anxiety and stress.

6. Take Good Care of Your Body

One of the best things you can do to handle the stresses of life is to fortify your health and body. Eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and energize your body, brain, and emotions.

It’s impossible to eliminate all stress from your life. Managing stress is another matter entirely. How much stress you experience—and how you respond when you experience it—are things you have more control over than you may realize.

More from Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D.
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