You probably have experienced stress. Most people feel stress. Stress is a part of every day life. You most likely have a lot of responsibilities and expectations. Most of the time you probably do a great job managing all your responsibilities, deadlines, and relationships. However adding extra events, situations, and responsibilities can cause additional stress. Stress comes in all forms.

· Family/relationships
· Work/career
· School
· Marriage
· Separation/divorce
· Move/relocation
· Pregnancy/birth
· Finances
· Illness or injury
· Emotional distress or upset

Stress is not always caused from adverse situations or factors. Things like worry and how you think about the world can also cause stress. Some internal sources of stress include:

· Worry and anxiety
· Beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts about self and others
· Expectations
· Change*

* Reference: WebMD. Causes of Stress. Found at:

No one likes to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or worried. Everyone uses different strategies to try to feel better and lessen or eliminate the stressful feelings. These strategies are called coping strategies. Coping strategies can be helpful and healthy for a person or can be harmful. Types of helpful coping include:

· Problem solving/planning
· Positive thinking
· Acceptance
· Religion, meditation, relaxation
· Engaging support
· Humor

Types of harmful coping include:

· Self-distraction
· Denial
· Substance-use or increased substance use
· Isolation
· Self-blame*

* Reference: Carver, C. & Scheier, M. (1994). Situational coping and coping dispositions in a stressful transaction. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 65(1), 184-195. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.66.1.184

Both types of coping decrease feelings of stress and emotional upset. However these behaviors can either improve emotional and physical health or have adverse consequences on emotional and physical health. Stress and how you cope can greatly impact your health. Harmful coping is most likely to have an impact on emotional and physical health.

Stress has the following impact on emotional health:

· Depression
· Anxiety/worry/fear
· Irritability/increased anger/frustration
· Negative thinking
· Racing thoughts

It is possible to adapt to or accept the stress in your life. Many times individuals do not feel emotionally stressed. Most people realize increased stress because there are increased physical health symptoms that become bothersome. Some physical symptoms of stress are:

· Headache
· Fatigue
· Difficulty sleeping
· Changes in appetite
· Difficulty concentrating or thinking
· Upset stomach
· Irritability

Stress is hard on the body. It creates a “fight or flight response” in the body. In order to protect the body from a dangerous situation the body is biologically programmed to respond when encountering stress. For example the muscles of the body will tense up, hence the term “feeling tense”. Stress impacts the body in the following ways:

· Headaches
· Increased heart rate
· Stomach issues/GI upset
· Muscle and body soreness
· Rapid breathing*

* Reference: Pietrangelo, A. (2014). The Effects of Stress on the Body. Healthline. Stress Management. Retrieved from:

The body releases a hormone called cortisol during times of stress. Cortisol can cause weight gain and will weaken the body’s immune system. If stress is not properly addressed it can lead to serious health conditions.

· High blood pressure
· Heart disease or other heart complications
· Heart attack
· Irritable bowel syndrome
· Stomach ulcers and heartburn
· Weight gain or loss
· Changes in sex drive
· Infertility
· Increased complications with asthma or arthritis
· Skin problems such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis*

* Reference: WebMD. Causes of Stress. Found at:

Although stressors can be a part of everyday life, it is important to practice healthy coping skills. Engaging in wellness and coping behaviors on a consistent and regular basis can not only reduce stress, but can improve physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. You can start to practice wellness and coping behaviors today. Pick 1 item from each list below.


· Journal.
· Remind yourself you are in control of this very moment and in this moment you are doing something to help you think and feel better.
· Remind yourself that you are capable of getting things done well and in time.
· Give yourself permission to be patient and trust yourself to do things well.
· Replace negative and upsetting thoughts with more positive thoughts. You can do this by stating the opposite of the bothersome thought. Repeat this over and over.
· Use a calendar and develop a time management plan to schedule yourself time throughout your day to address each responsibility. The more specific you are the better.


· Meditate/deep breathing/relaxation exercises.
· Allow yourself to cry.
· Acknowledge your feelings. Accept your feelings. Remember your feelings are OK.
· Talk to or call a trusted friend.
· Let go of anger and forgive yourself or others.


· Pray.
· Meditate.
· Read spiritual and inspirational texts or books.
· Give control to your Higher Power. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Let your Higher Power do that for you.
· Join a fellowship group.
· Enjoy nature.


· Walk/hike.
· Work out.
· Eat more fruits and vegetables.
· Follow doctor’s orders.
· Replace caffeine and sugary drinks with water.
· Rest and get a full nights’ sleep.

Stressful situations may be inevitable. It may seem like you have lost your control. However you can take control by allowing yourself to practice wellness behaviors everyday. If you miss a day that is OK, there is always tomorrow. But you can fight stress and improve health by taking things one day at a time. It can be helpful to find 25-30 minutes of “quiet time” each day. During this time you can try some of your new coping strategies.