Act to manage stress
If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have numerous health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:
- Regular physical activity
- Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or getting a massage
- Keeping a sense of humor
- Socializing with family and friends
- Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music
Aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways you may use to manage stress — such as watching television, surfing the Internet or playing video games — may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.
And be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol intake, and the use of illicit substances.
When to seek help
If you're not sure if stress is the cause or if you've taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes. Or, consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist, who can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Also, if you have chest pain, especially if it occurs during physical activity or is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea, or pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, get emergency help immediately. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptoms.
April 28, 2016
See more In-depth
- 2013 Stress in America: Are teens adopting adults' stress habits? American Psychological Association. http://apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/highlights.aspx. Accessed Feb. 17, 2016.
- How stress affects your health. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Accessed Feb. 16, 2016.
- Managing stress. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandlingStress/index.html. Accessed Feb. 16, 2016.
- Stress and your health fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/stress-your-health.html. Accessed Feb. 16, 2016.
- Seaward BL. Essentials of Managing Stress. 3rd ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2014.
- Manage stress. Healthfinder.gov. http://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/manage-stress. Accessed Feb. 18, 2016.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Stress management. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2004.
- Angina pectoris (stable angina). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Angina-Pectoris-Stable-Angina_UCM_437515_Article.jsp#.VsZBt9j2bIU. Accessed Feb. 18, 2016.
- Warning signs of a heart attack. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Warning-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_002039_Article.jsp#.VsZCDtj2bIU. Accessed Feb. 18, 2016.