Stress is a feeling of tension or strain related to the events and pressures of everyday life. Learn to cope and control your stress to help you function in a healthy way. Stress can be caused by many different things, including any of the following:

  • Loss of a loved one or a job
  • Life events, such as having a baby, buying a house, or getting a divorce
  • Medical conditions, such as an acute or long-term illness or a new diagnosis

What are the signs and symptoms of too much stress?

The signs and symptoms of stress are different from person to person.

  • Emotional:
    • Crying
    • Anxiety or nervousness
    • Easily upset
    • Edgy, angry, or impatient
    • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Physical:
    • Headaches
    • Tiredness
    • Feeling restless
    • Sleep problems
    • Heartburn
  • Mental:
    • Trouble thinking clearly or making decisions
    • Memory loss or forgetfulness
    • Constant worry
  • Social:
    • Substance abuse
    • Overeating
    • Isolation or withdrawal from others
    • Decreased desire for sexual intimacy
    • Feeling bitter, resentful, or impatient with others

How can I manage my stress?

Learn what causes you stress. Not all stress can be avoided. Instead, change how you cope with stress by doing any of the following:

  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or listening to music. Take at least 30 minutes a day to do something you enjoy. This may include taking a bath or reading a book.
  • Do deep breathing exercises during times of increased stress. Sit up straight and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Take twice as long to breathe out as you do when you breathe in. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer or more focused.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself. Make a list of tasks and prioritize them. Focus on one task at a time.
  • Talk to someone about things that upset you. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or support group. Try to stop yourself when you think negative, angry, or discouraging thoughts.

Take time to exercise. Start slowly, such as walking 1 to 2 blocks each day. Stretch and relax your muscles often. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish.