How to Reduce the Effects of Stress on Your Life (2022)

We all experience stress in our lives. Because the vast majority of health problems are caused or influenced by stress, it's important to understand how stress affects your body and learn effective stress management techniques to make stress work for you rather than against you.

What Is Stress?

Stress is your body’s response to changes in your life. Because life involves constant change—ranging from everyday, routine changes like commuting from home to work to adapting to major life changes like marriage, divorce, or death of a loved one—there is no avoiding stress.

Your goal shouldn't be to eliminate all stress but to eliminate unnecessary stress and effectively manage the rest. There are some common causes of stress that many people experience, but each person is different.

Causes

Stress can come from many sources, which are known as "stressors." Because our experience of what is considered "stressful" is created by our unique perceptions of what we encounter in life (based on our own mix of personality traits, available resources, and habitual thought patterns), a situation may be perceived as "stressful" by one person and merely "challenging" by someone else.

Simply put, one person's stress trigger may not register as stressful to someone else. That said, certain situations tend to cause more stress in most people and can increase the risk of burnout.

For example, when we find ourselves in situations where there are high demands on us but we little control and few choices, we are likely to experience stress. We might also feel stress when we don't feel equipped; where we may be harshly judged by others; and where consequences for failure are steep or unpredictable.

Many people are stressed by their jobs, relationships, financial issues, and health problems, as well as more mundane things like clutter or busy schedules. Learning skills to cope with these stressors can help reduce your experience of stress.

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Effects

Just as stress is perceived differently by each of us, stress affects us all in ways that are unique to us. One person may experience headaches, while another may find stomach upset is a common reaction, and a third may experience any of a number of other symptoms.

While we all react to stress in our own ways, there is a long list of commonly experienced effects of stress that range from mild to life-threatening. Stress can affect immunity, which can impact virtually all areas of health. Stress can affect mood in many ways as well. Creating a stress management plan is often one part of a plan for overall wellness.

If you find yourself experiencing physical symptoms you think may be related to stress, talk to your doctor to be sure you are doing what you can to safeguard your health. Symptoms that may be exacerbated by stress are not "all in your head" and need to be taken seriously.

Stress Management

Stress can be effectively managed in many different ways. The best stress management plans usually include a mix of stress relievers that address stress physically and psychologically and help to develop resilience and coping skills.

1:41

(Video) How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia

7 Highly Effective Stress Relievers

Use Quick Stress Relievers

Some stress relief techniques can work in just a few minutes to calm the body's stress response. These techniques offer a "quick fix" that helps you feel calmer at the moment, and this can help in several ways.

When your stress response is not triggered, you may approach problems more thoughtfully and proactively. You may be less likely to lash out at others out of frustration, which can keep your relationships healthier. Nipping your stress response in the bud can also keep you from experiencing chronic stress.

Quick stress relievers like breathing exercises, for example, may not build your resilience to future stress or minimize the stressors that you face. But they can help calm the body's physiology once the stress response is triggered.

5 Ways to Calm Down Quickly When You Feel Overwhelmed

Develop Stress-Relieving Habits

Some techniques are less convenient to use when you are in the middle of a stressful situation. But if you practice them regularly, they can help you manage stress in general by being less reactive to it and more able to reverse your stress response quickly and easily.

Long-term healthy habits, like exercise or regular meditation, can help to promote resilience toward stressors if you make them a regular part of your life. Communication skills and other lifestyle skills can be helpful in managing stressors and changing how we feel from "overwhelmed" to "challenged" or even "stimulated."

Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Minimize Stress

Eliminate Stressors When You Can

You may not be able to completely eliminate stress from your life or even the biggest stressors, but there are areas where you can minimize it and get it to a manageable level.

Any stress that you can cut out can minimize your overall stress load. For example, ending even one toxic relationship can help you more effectively deal with other stress you experience because you may feel less overwhelmed.

Discovering a wide variety of stress management techniques, and then choosing a mix that fits your needs, can be a key strategy for effective stress relief.

Beat the Top 5 Reasons You're Stressed

Stress FAQs

There are a number of common questions that you might ask about stress and stress management.

Is All Stress Harmful to Health?

There are several different types of stress, and not all are harmful. Eustress, for example, is a positive form of stress. But chronic stress has been linked to many serious health issues and is the type of negative stress most often mentioned in the news. While we want to manage or eliminate negative stress, we also want to keep positive forms of stress in our lives to help us remain vital and alive.

(Video) How stress affects your body - Sharon Horesh Bergquist

However, if we experience too much stress in our lives, even "good" stress can contribute to excessive stress levels, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed or having your stress response triggered for too long. This is why it is still important to learn to relax your body and mind periodically and cut down on unnecessary stress whenever possible.

How Good Stress Can Add Excitement to Your Life

How Can I Tell When I’m Too Stressed?

Stress affects us all in different ways, not all of which are negative. In fact, the stress of an exciting life can actually serve as a good motivator and keep things interesting. When stress levels get too intense, however, there are some stress symptoms that many people experience.

For example, headaches, irritability, and "fuzzy thinking" can all be symptoms that you’re under too much stress. While not everybody who’s under stress will experience these specific symptoms, many will.

If you find that you don't realize how stressed you are until you are overwhelmed, it's important to learn to notice your body's subtle cues and your own behavior, almost like an outside observer might. To notice how your body is reacting to stress, you can try this body scan meditation (it helps relax at the same time).

What Can I Do When I Feel Overwhelmed?

We all feel overwhelmed from time to time; that’s normal. While it’s virtually impossible to eliminate times when events conspire and the body’s stress response is triggered, there are ways that you can quickly reverse your body’s reaction to stress, buffering the damage to your health and keeping your thinking clear, so you can more effectively deal with what’s going on in the moment.

How to Take a Break From Work (and Why You Need To)

Is There a Way to Be Less Affected by Stress?

By practicing regular stress management techniques, you can eliminate some of the stress you feel and make yourself more resilient in the face of stress in the future. There are several things you can try, ranging from a morning walk to an evening journaling practice to just making more time for friends. The trick is to find something that fits with your lifestyle and personality, so it’s easier to stick with.

The Best Stress Management Books

4 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress.

  2. Ma X, Yue ZQ, Gong ZQ, et al. The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults.Front Psychol. 2017;8:874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Mind and Body Approaches for Stress: What the Science Says. 2020.

  4. Bota PG, Miropolskiy E, Nguyen V. Stop caretaking the borderline or narcissist: How to end the drama and get on with life.Ment Illn. 2017;9(1):6985. doi:10.4081/mi.2017.6985

Additional Reading

(Video) Stress Relief Tips - 7 Ways on How to Lower Stress | Anthem

How to Reduce the Effects of Stress on Your Life (2)

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

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FAQs

How do you reduce stress essay? ›

These are 8 ways which will surely help you to reduce stress effectively:
  1. Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep is the main reason for stress. ...
  2. Healthy diet. Eating fresh foods is really important for students. ...
  3. 3.Exercise. ...
  4. Meditation. ...
  5. Listen to music. ...
  6. Time management. ...
  7. Competition.
  8. Realistic.

How can I reduce stress and overthinking? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.
15 Nov 2019

How can a student overcome stress? ›

Eat well, get enough sleep, be physically active (find out more about getting active), cut down on alcohol, and take time to relax as well as working and studying. Read about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing. Avoid drugs, including lots of caffeine - this can have a negative impact on your stress levels and wellbeing.

What are 6 ways to reduce stress? ›

6 ways to help manage daily stress more effectively:
  • Talk, Talk, Talk! Turn to family and friends, or even a trained therapist, to discuss things in your life that are causing stress. ...
  • Exercise Regularly. ...
  • Engage in Meditation. ...
  • Healthy Diet. ...
  • Stay Organized. ...
  • Practice Positive Self-talk.

How can teens avoid stress? ›

Stress management for kids and teens
  1. Sleep well. Sleep is essential for physical and emotional well-being. ...
  2. Exercise. Physical activity is an essential stress reliever for people of all ages. ...
  3. Talk it out. ...
  4. Make time for fun — and quiet. ...
  5. Get outside. ...
  6. Write about it. ...
  7. Learn mindfulness.
24 Oct 2019

How can family reduce stress? ›

Taking time out to have fun with your family is a great way to reduce your overall stress level. Try engaging in activities like a day at the park, reading a book as a family, or even just playing catch in your yard when the weather is nice to keep your stress levels manageable.

Which of the following help reduce stress? ›

Taking the time to relax every day helps manage stress and protect your body from the effects of stress. You can choose from a variety of techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. Many online and smartphone apps provide guidance on these techniques.

Why is it important to manage stress? ›

Preventing and managing long-term stress can lower your risk for other conditions — like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. You can prevent or reduce stress by: Planning ahead. Deciding which tasks to do first.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

How do you manage stress as a student in this pandemic period? ›

Many health centers provide or give access to online mental health services.
...
Interview With a Mental Health Professional
  1. Self-care, not school work, should be your No. 1 priority. ...
  2. Set healthy boundaries with your loved ones. ...
  3. Set boundaries with yourself. ...
  4. Create a happy workspace. ...
  5. Follow a daily routine.

How can you overcome stress and challenges for you to graduate? ›

Stress management tips for college students
  1. Get proper rest and sleep. ...
  2. Focus on health and nutrition. ...
  3. Be active. ...
  4. Have a stress outlet. ...
  5. Find connections. ...
  6. Practice self-care. ...
  7. Manage time effectively. ...
  8. Stay organized.

How can I reduce anxiety immediately? ›

How to calm down quickly
  1. Breathe. One of the best things you can do when you start to feel that familiar panicky feeling is to breathe. ...
  2. Name what you're feeling. ...
  3. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique. ...
  4. Try the “File It” mind exercise. ...
  5. Run. ...
  6. Think about something funny. ...
  7. Distract yourself. ...
  8. Take a cold shower (or an ice plunge)
22 Jun 2021

What are the common effects of stress? ›

Physical symptoms of stress include:
  • Aches and pains.
  • Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching.
  • Stomach or digestive problems.
  • Trouble having sex.
28 Jan 2021

What is a stress management plan? ›

Your stress management plan should include the following: A list of your triggers. What are the things that stress you out? It can be any number of things like workload, lack of time, finances, health, family members, people at work or watching the news. It is important to know your triggers.

What is the reason of stress? ›

Don't have much or any control over the outcome of a situation. Have responsibilities that you find overwhelming. Don't have enough work, activities or change in your life. Experience discrimination, hate or abuse.

What is stress in human body? ›

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.

What makes you stress as a student? ›

Other stressors include being homesick, academic or personal competition, personal pressure to do well, social anxieties, and heavy workloads. Students also feel stress when they get too little sleep, a poor diet and even from having too much downtime.

What is the best way to improve your mental wellbeing? ›

10 tips to boost your mental health
  1. Make social connection — especially face-to-face — a priority. ...
  2. Stay active. ...
  3. Talk to someone. ...
  4. Appeal to your senses. ...
  5. Take up a relaxation practice. ...
  6. Make leisure and contemplation a priority. ...
  7. Eat a brain-healthy diet to support strong mental health. ...
  8. Don't skimp on sleep.
4 Oct 2018

What causes stress at home? ›

According to researchers at UCLA's Center of Everyday Lives and Families (CELF), there's a link between high cortisol (a stress hormone) and women who own homes with a "high density of household objects." That means stacks of papers, piles of toys, or even a sink full of dirty dishes are serious stressors — so stop ...

Does crying relieve stress? ›

Many people associate crying with feeling sad and making them feel worse, but in reality, crying can help improve your mood - emotional tears release stress hormones. Your stress level lowers when you cry, which can help you sleep better and strengthen your immune system.

Which food reduce stress? ›

9 foods that help reduce anxiety
  • Fatty fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3s. ...
  • Eggs. Egg yolks , especially from pasture-raised hens, are another good source of vitamin D. ...
  • Pumpkin seeds. ...
  • Dark chocolate. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Chamomile. ...
  • Yogurt. ...
  • Green tea.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How can I be happy and relax? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

Do animals cry? ›

Animals simply don't cry. Or at least, they don't shed emotional tears. The only creatures who have evolved to do so, it turns out, are humans.

Do men cry? ›

According to the poll of 2,004 Americans, men cry on average about four times a month. Women, on the other hand, weep about three times in a given month. That's 48 times a year for men and only 36 for women.

Why do humans cry? ›

These arise from strong emotions. Empathy, compassion, physical pain, attachment pain, and moral and sentimental emotions can trigger these tears. They communicate your emotions to others. Emotional tears make you feel more vulnerable, which could improve your relationships.

What is the reason of stress? ›

Don't have much or any control over the outcome of a situation. Have responsibilities that you find overwhelming. Don't have enough work, activities or change in your life. Experience discrimination, hate or abuse.

How can I reduce anxiety? ›

There are a number of things you can try to help combat anxiety, including:
  1. Behavioral therapy.
  2. Deep breathing.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Journaling.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Reading.
  7. Socializing, following pandemic guidelines of social distancing, masking and hand hygiene)
  8. Speaking with your health care provider.
10 Feb 2021

What is stress in human body? ›

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.

Can stress Make You Sick? ›

Chronic stress — stress that occurs consistently over a long period of time — can have a negative impact on a person's immune system and physical health. If you are constantly under stress, you may experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping or high blood pressure.

How can I reduce anxiety naturally? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  1. Stay active. ...
  2. Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  3. Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  4. Limit caffeine intake. ...
  5. Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  6. Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  7. Eat a balanced diet. ...
  8. Practice deep breathing.
15 Dec 2021

Which exercise is best for anxiety? ›

Research shows aerobic exercise is especially helpful. A simple bike ride, dance class, or even a brisk walk can be a powerful tool for those suffering from chronic anxiety.

How do u make yourself feel better? ›

11 Ways to Feel Better Every Day
  1. Seek mental health care. This is at the top of the list for a reason. ...
  2. Sleep enough. Most of us spend one-quarter to one-third of our lives asleep. ...
  3. Eat plenty of fiber. ...
  4. Go outside. ...
  5. Exercise. ...
  6. Do something creative. ...
  7. Practice a little escapism. ...
  8. Help someone.
8 Sept 2022

How can you improve your emotional health? ›

There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.
  1. Be aware of your emotions and reactions. ...
  2. Express your feelings in appropriate ways. ...
  3. Think before you act. ...
  4. Manage stress. ...
  5. Strive for balance. ...
  6. Take care of your physical health. ...
  7. Connect with others. ...
  8. Find purpose and meaning.
23 Jun 2020

Videos

1. 6 Daily Habits to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
(Psych2Go)
2. How to protect your brain from stress | Niki Korteweg | TEDxAmsterdamWomen
(TEDx Talks)
3. How to reduce stress with the 2:1 breathing technique
(Tufts Medical Center)
4. Chronic Stress, Anxiety? - You Are Your Best Doctor! | Dr. Bal Pawa | TEDxSFU
(TEDx Talks)
5. Stress is KILLING You | This is WHY and What You Can Do | Dr. Joe Dispenza (Eye Opening Speech)
(Motivation2Study)
6. Managing Stress: Good for Your Health
(Veterans Health Administration)

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