The pace and challenges of modern life make stress management necessary for everyone.

To monitor your stress, first identify your stress triggers. What makes you feel angry, tense, worried or irritable? Do you often get headaches or an upset stomach with no medical cause? Is it hard to focus or do you have trouble sleeping at night?

Some stressors, such as job pressures, relationship problems, a busy schedule or financial concerns, are easy to identify. Recently many people have had to deal with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well. But daily hassles and demands, such as waiting in a long line or being late to a meeting, also contribute to your stress level.

Even essentially positive events, such as getting married or buying a house, can be stressful. Any change to your life can cause stress.

Once you've identified your stress triggers, think about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what you can and can't control is a good starting point. For example, if stress keeps you up at night, the solution may be as easy as removing the TV and computer from your bedroom and letting your mind wind down before bed.

Other times, such as when stress is based on high demands at work or a loved one's illness, you might be able to change only your reaction.

Don't feel like you have to figure it out on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends, whether you need someone to listen to you, help with child care or a ride to work when your car is being repaired.

Manage your time and prioritize your tasks and commitments. Within reason, set the agenda for your time and energy. Figure out what's most important or what commitments you can say no to. Get rid of commitments that aren't important.

Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, meditation, mindfulness or being in nature. Set aside time for yourself. Get a massage, soak in a bubble bath, dance, listen to music, watch a comedy — whatever helps you relax.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you manage stress. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone — and more time relaxing.

Avoid using alcohol or drugs to manage stress.

Stress won't disappear from your life. And stress management needs to be ongoing. But by paying attention to what causes your stress and practicing ways to relax, you can counter some of the bad effects of stress and increase your ability to cope with challenges. You can reduce your stress level, improve your quality of life, improve your ability to focus, have better relationships and improve your self-control. If your stress gets worse, you might find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional.

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April 08, 2022