Stressors are unfortunately part of our daily personal and working lives. This doesn’t mean they’re directly problematic. Rather, our responses to stressors can be challenging. When we work to reduce our overall stress levels, we can find it much easier to fulfill our responsibilities. It’s especially helpful to regulate the stress levels of people who oversee a group – such as in a workplace or on a team. Anyone can be considerably less effective when reacting to others who are stressed. Several things can help you reduce or manage your stress levels including:

1. Avoid unnecessary stress. While you must deal with some stressors, like urgent deadlines, you can choose to eliminate others from your life. For example, you can let go of the stress of being late for a lunch when you decide not to respond to a non-urgent text that would delay you.
o Learn to say “no.”
o Prioritize urgent vs. non-urgent tasks and responsibilities.
o Make your to-do list manageable – address the “must do” items and put the “should” items on the backburner.
o Recognize your limits and accept that you can’t do it all.
2. Identify the causes of your stress. Stressors are often predictable and come up again and again.
o You can problem-solve ways to respond to the predictable stressors within your control.
o Make a list of your most common personal and work-related stressors.
o Identify what specifically makes the stressor feel stressful.
o Focus on which stressors are within your control to act on.
3. Proactively work to reduce your stress levels by using an appropriate stress management strategy. Realize some strategies work for small stressors but may not for larger ones. Have a range of strategies at your disposal.
o Maintain good sleep habits to prevent stress from becoming unmanageable.
o Practice deep breathing or distraction techniques to reduce stress “in-the-moment.”
o Practice relaxation techniques, like meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or yoga.
o Engage in social activities – particularly those that include people you like the most.
4. Problem-solve the stressor. Teach yourself how to quickly recognize the stressor components you can control and those you can’t.
o Face the stressor head on, whether it’s a situation, assignment or related to a person or relationship.
o Be willing to compromise on effective solutions when you need an immediate, but perhaps less-than-ideal, solution to an acute stressor.
o Brainstorm pros and cons of avoiding, accepting, altering or adapting to a stressor you can’t eliminate.
5. Change your thinking. Actively change your thoughts about your stressors – the way you interpret what you’re experiencing impacts your emotional reaction.
o Be mindful of your internal language. For example, viewing a traffic jam as a “nuisance” rather than an “utter catastrophe” leads to different interpretations.
o Try to be less of a perfectionist and accept and tolerate things that differ from your ideal.
o Focus on the positive – think about the “silver lining” that comes along with some, but not all, stressors. For example, getting a special assignment may mean a tighter schedule. It could also be a step toward promotion or personal growth.
6. Make time to relax and recharge. Make it a priority to set aside some time for you. You can’t run on empty.
o Schedule short periods to rest and relax every day.
o Connect with others and spend time with positive people.
o Do something you enjoy every day.
7. Strengthen your physical health. The better rested and healthier you feel, the more resilient you can be in dealing with stress.
o Prioritize getting enough sleep.
o Exercise regularly.
o Eat healthy foods and eat regularly.
o Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume.
o Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescription drugs.