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Help with Stress

Stress can be a reaction to a short-lived situation, such as being stuck in traffic. Or it can last a long time if you’re dealing with relationship problems, a spouse’s death or other serious situations. Stress becomes dangerous when it interferes with your ability to live a normal life over an extended period. You may feel tired, unable to concentrate or irritable. Stress can also damage your physical and mental health.

Adapted from “Mind/Body: Stress” (

Read our Article entitled: 6 Myths About Stress

APA offers the following tips on how to manage your stress:

Understand how you stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed”How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed”

Identify your sources of stress. What events or situations trigger stressful feelings” Are they related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else”

Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control, or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.

Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over/under eating) to cope. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations” Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed”

Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities such as meditation, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don’t take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.

Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations or other breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it’s just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.

Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.

Information contained in this tip sheet should not be used as a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may need or benefit from care should consult a psychologist or other licensed health/mental health professional. For additional information on stress and mind/body health, visit the APA Help Center.

In the workplace and at home, stress and other difficult situations are at an all-time high for many Americans. Being constantly worried about being laid off, or doing the job of two people, can cause serious problems for workers. On the home front, going through a divorce, caring for elderly parents, or dealing with a life-threatening illness are some of the difficult situations that can test a family’s coping abilities.

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