Live Well

Back to Live Well

Aim for Less Stress

What to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed

We all have complicated, busy lives. Any given day might bring upsetting news headlines or challenges at work or at home. It’s natural to feel stress from time to time. Learn to identify what causes your stress and find ways to manage it, such as meditating, journaling or exercising.

What is stress?
External situations, such as a difficult project at work or a family problem, can cause stress. Stress usually goes away once the issue is behind you. While we usually think of stress in a negative light, in some cases it can actually help us. For instance, stress might motivate you to work harder to meet a tight deadline.

In most cases, though, stress is not something we welcome into our lives. Symptoms of stress can include:

  • Feelings of fear or anger.
  • Feelings of frustration, worry or sadness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Trouble making decisions.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of controlled substances.

Stress can take a toll on your physical health, as well. It might make your existing chronic health problems worse, or it can cause stomach problems, body pain, headaches or rashes. If stress is making it difficult for you to complete your regular daily activities, try one of these tactics to help yourself feel better:

  • Download an app with relaxation and mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing and meditation.
  • Record your feelings by starting a journal.
  • When negative thoughts pop up, identify and challenge them.
  • Avoid excess caffeine.
  • Get back to the basics: Exercise, get enough sleep, and eat a nutritious diet.
  • Take time for your favorite activities.
  • Connect with friends and loved ones. Talk about how you’re feeling.
  • Take a break to stretch or go for a quick walk.

If you continue to feel symptoms of stress for long periods of time, talk to a medical professional. Many people find results through therapy, medication or a combination of the two.