Too Much Stress? Try These Tension Reducing Strategies

If asked, most Americans would probably say that they need or would like to lower the level of stress in their lives. If this is true for you, try some of the following strategies to bring your stress level down: 

  • Get up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do in the morning. 
  • Prepare for your morning the night before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, lay out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
  • Make lists. Don’t try and rely on memory alone. Write down appointments, when you need to pick up your dry cleaning, when library books are due, etc. 
  • Don’t do anything that might tempt you to tell a lie later. 
  • Make duplicates of all keys. Put a house key in a secret place and carry a spare car key in your wallet—separate from your key ring. 
  • Practice preventive maintenance. This will keep things running as smoothly as possible so that your car, appliances and home won’t break down or fall apart at the worst possible moment.
  • Be prepared to wait. Keep a small book in your purse, so that if you have to wait in a long line, you don’t become annoyed. 
  • Don’t procrastinate. If you want to do something, and you plan to do it tomorrow, sit down and do it today. 
  • Plan ahead. Keep your gas tank as full as possible— try to never let it run below quarter of a tank. 
  • Keep a stock of home staples in case of emergency. Don’t let yourself run out of the little things so you have to make a special trip to restock—keep plenty of stamps, bus tokens, etc., in good supply. 
  • Don’t ignore little things that don’t work. The small sources of aggravation are usually what make us feel like we are going over the edge. For instance, if your alarm clock is broken or not working right, get it repaired immediately or buy a new one. Don’t let it become something that annoys you in the back of your mind.
  • Give yourself a 15-minute arrival time cushion for appointments. If you have a one o’clock appointment, plan to arrive at 12:45. If you are catching a domestic flight, plan to arrive at the airport at least an hour and a half or more before your departure. 
  • When everything feels like it’s going wrong, try and remember all the things that are going right in your life. Being a little Pollyanna-ish can be a healthy way of getting through those tough moments. 
  • Eliminate or restrict your caffeine consumption. 
  • Relax your standards. Will the world really come to an end if you don’t mow the lawn on Saturday? 
  • Do something for someone else. It’s a powerful way to feel good and reduce stress. 


—adapted from “Life skills,” a handout for a stress reduction class


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