Managing stress

Discover tips to help stop piling on the pressure

Life can be stressful enough without unknowingly adding tension. Check out these 5 possible sources of stress. See what speaks to you — and pick up quick tips. Focus on a few small changes at a time.

1. You get caught up in negative thoughts.

You often find yourself thinking about all that’s wrong — or could go wrong. Or your inner voice tends to be unkind and critical.

Tips to try:

  • Catch yourself. Just being aware that you’ve hopped on a gloomy train of thought may help you put on the brakes.
  • Practice rethinking negative self-talk. Try spinning it to be more positive.
  • Focus on what’s in your control. Is there something you can do about the situation? If not, urge yourself to let it go.

2. You try to tackle too much.

You feel overwhelmed — even on your days off. So you don’t take time to relax, recharge or have fun.

Tips to try:

  • Take a close look at your to-dos. Pick a few key items — and work off a shorter, doable list.
  • Delegate tasks, such as household chores, when possible. Think of asking for help as a strength, not a weakness.
  • Break large projects into smaller tasks.
  • Remember to give yourself credit for all you get done.
  • Schedule free time and breaks, even if it’s just a few minutes.

3. You skip exercise.

You’re busy or tired — so fitness gets pushed aside. But being active is a great way to fend off and reduce stress.1

Tips to try:

  • Start small: Fit a couple 10-minute walks into your workday. It may do wonders to clear your head.
  • Focus on finding activities you enjoy.
  • Plan active outings with friends and family.
  • Pick specific time slots — and treat workouts as unbreakable appointments.

4. You miss out on the moment.

You’re rarely fully present. You might be mindlessly checking your phone. Or your mind is racing with thoughts of the past or future.

Tips to try:

  • Work on being more mindful during everyday tasks, such as driving or showering. When your mind drifts, practice coming back to — and soaking in — the present moment.
  • Notice — and be grateful for — the little things. A plum’s purple glow. The taste of a cup of tea. A friend’s warm smile.
  • Put digital distractions aside — especially when you want to enjoy someone’s company, savor a meal or simply relax.

5. You expect perfection

You don’t give yourself a break — and you may have unrealistic expectations of others too.

Tips to try:

  • Remind yourself that real life tends to be naturally imperfect.
  • Think of mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do better next time.
  • Amuse yourself. See if you can find humor in not-so-perfect situations.


  1. Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.