Dear Kelley,

I am writing in looking for information on good self-care. This time of year is incredibly stressful anyway, but recently the demands of my job have had me feeling very anxious and physically exhausted. I need to find better ways to reduce my stress level. My colleagues tell me to just enjoy a glass of wine and relax after work. However, many of them don’t know I stopped drinking about a year ago. I know that wouldn’t help anyway. I am looking to incorporate easy and sustainable ways to take better care of myself to help reduce my stress.

Sincerely,

Ellen

Dear Ellen,

We all have stress — at work, at home, and on the road. Sometimes we can feel especially stressed because of a bad interaction with someone, too much work, or everyday hassles like getting stuck in traffic. Negative stress can keep you from feeling and performing your best — mentally, physically and emotionally. No one’s life is completely stress-free. It’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life (American Heart Association).

According to the American Heart Association, emergency stress stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them. Here are some ideas:

Count to 10 before you speak or react.

Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.

Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.

Try a quick meditation to get some perspective.

If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.

Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.

Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one-step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.

Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.

Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.

Work out or do something active.

Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you’re down, you may find pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend, or reading a good book. To learn more visit: www.heart.org

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