Whether it’s from work, family or any number of sources - just about all of us goes through stressful periods. And people respond to stress differently, which makes a “one-size-fits-all” solution difficult to prescribe. Even so, if you are feeling overwhelmed by stress - there is one thing that we all must do: take action.

While the source of our stress can vary, always keep in mind that you are the one that has control over your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions and how you handle problems. How is this possible? Take a step back from it all…

Can you change the stressful situation? If so, then do it.

If you cannot change the situation, change how you respond to it.

Start by identifying the source of your stress. It can be difficult when you feel that so much is coming at you from so many different directions. But find out what the real problem is. Maybe the problem isn’t that you’ve got “too much to do” or there’s “too much being asked of you” - maybe your organizational practices or work habits need adjustment. If you were more organized or had better working practices, then you’d possibly be able better handle this seemingly overwhelming amount of activity. (This is how we try to change the stressful situation ourselves.)

The key is to correctly (and honestly) identify the true source of stress. Only then can you address it.

While external sources of stress are definitely a possibility, it’s important to accept the role you play in the creation or the maintaining of stressful situations.

When we take action, it’s important to identify how you are currently dealing with your stress and see what’s healthy and what isn’t. Unhealthy coping strategies include smoking, drinking too much, procrastinating, social withdrawal and lashing out on others.

Find healthier ways to manage your stress level.

1)Physical activity. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or become an amazing athlete, but just about any form of physical activity will help relieve stress. Walk your dog, use the stairs more often, go dancing, park your car in the farthest spot away and walk the parking lot, play a fun, easy sport with your kids or find a walking/exercise partner. There are definitely biological benefits to exercise when it comes to stress, which we’ll leave for another space, but the psychological benefits are tremendous as well, as you’ve removed yourself mentally (and physically) from the stressful situation, and you can then reproach with a fresh perspective.

2)Be social! Casual fun with friends or co-workers can be a great benefit.

3)Avoid stress! Sounds obvious, right? But it’s not always obvious in practice. However, when you’re being honest, you know when you may be walking into something that may be more than you want to deal with or can handle. So just don’t do it. Learn to say “no”.

4)Alter the situation. Express how you feel in a respectful way, and be willing to compromise. If you and your stress-source (your manager, for example) have an open line of dialogue and a clear understanding of where each other is coming from, then that may help in relieving some of that pressure.

5)Don’t try and control what cannot be controlled. Time is going to tick, no matter what. And sometimes, that other person is just going to be a jerk no matter what. If nothing can be done about it, just accept it and don’t try to control it.

6)Make time for fun! Helps you have a positive attitude.

And as always, we’ll tell you that a healthy lifestyle helps with all of this. Eating well, exercising and sleeping enough - those are the foundations of your life and lifestyle. For everything to run smoothly, you need that strong foundation.

Don’t let stress overtake you. Take action and you’ll find a happier, healthier life.