Eat smart

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can give you more energy to keep stress under control. Caffeine may give you a jolt of energy, but it'll wear off quickly.

Resist overcommitting

Rather than looking for ways to squeeze more activities into the day, find ways to pare them down. Remember, it's OK to say no to new requests so you can devote time to activities you're already committed to.

Be prepared

Anticipate challenges. Whether it's preparing for a project at work, planning a family gathering or handling a sick child, being prepared can help you face stressful situations with confidence. If necessary, set aside extra time to calm your frayed nerves.

Banish negative thoughts

If you find yourself thinking, "This can't be done," snap back to attention. Think instead, "This will be tough. But we can make it work." Putting a positive spin on negative thoughts can help you work through stressful situations.

Keep laughing

Humor is a great way to relieve stress. Laughter releases endorphins — natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude. Studies suggest laughter may lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and increase circulation as well.

Seek help

If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if once-helpful techniques have lost their effectiveness, you may need to look for reinforcements. Plenty of books, websites and support groups are dedicated to helping people get through tough times. You may also find it helps to talk to a counselor or mental health professional. Sometimes an outside perspective makes all the difference.

Remember, stress is a part of life — it's never going to disappear. But you have the tools to keep stress from taking over your life. Put them to good use.

July 23, 2013 See more In-depth