Managing Stress

What is Stress?

Stress is a response which is determined by your perception of an event, change, or challenge in your life.  An important first step is recognizing the amount of and type of stresses that affect your life and then develop strategies to manage that stress.  The following is a self-assessment symptom scale to help you determine the stress in your life.   

Symptoms of Stress Scale

How frequently do you find yourself experiencing such problems as headaches, problems going to sleep or staying asleep, unexplained muscle pain, jaw pain, uncontrolled anger, and frustration? Using the table below, assess the frequency that you experience these common symptoms of stress (Matheny, Ph.D. & McCarthy, Ph.D., 2000).

Frequency of Symptoms
SymptomsAll day, every dayOnce or twice a dayEvery night or day2-3 times a weekOnce a weekOnce a monthnever
Tense muscles, sore neck and back       
Anxiety, worry, phobias       
Difficulty falling asleep       
Bouts of anger/ hostility       
Boredom, depression       
Eating too much or too little       
Diarrhea, cramps, gas, constipation       
Restlessness, itching, tics       

The more often you experience these symptoms of stress, the more likely stress is having a negative impact on your life.  Note some of these stressors can be a medical issue; please consult your primary care physician. Other tests are available here.

Common Modern Life Stressors

Use these points to help you identify your life stressors.  To help manage your stress you may try to avoid these stressors or limit exposure to them.  If you cannot avoid dealing with them, try various stress management techniques to manage your reaction to them.

  • Isolation or loneliness
  • Job changes
  • Keeping healthy
  • Lack of confidence
  • Family conflict
  • Money worries
  • Pain or fatigue

Solutions to Stress

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Techniques

Mindfulness is being fully aware of what is going on in the present moment without judgment.  Some mindfulness techniques that might be helpful are compassion meditation, body scan meditation, mindful eating exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness circle.  You can find more about these techniques here.

Promote Good Health

How your body feels can determine the stress you experience.  If your body is in pain you will be irritable and unhappy.  It can cause depression and other problems in your life.  Ensuring you are healthy could eliminate several stressors in your life.  

Sleep Well

Sleep allows our bodies to rest and recharge. It is so crucial that losing only a small amount of sleep can affect memory, mood, and judgement.  Sleep can also affect you physically causing obesity and high blood pressure.  To find more about how sleep can affect you visit this website.

Eat Well

When we are stressed we have a tendency to skip meals or choose a less healthy option by choosing fast food for convenience.  Unfortunately eating high sugar foods and skipping meals causes additional stress on our bodies, increasing overall stress load.  To learn more about eating healthy for stress reduction, click here.

Stay Active

Exercise is an additional way for the body to relieve built up stress and helps the brain cope with life stressors. Exercise helps your physical body as well.  To learn how exercise can help with stress reduction visit this link.


Breathing for relaxation not only gives your body time for a healthy response, but could also decrease your metabolism, relax your muscles, and decrease blood pressure.  To find out more about breathing for relaxation and to reduce stress visit this site.

Worry Less

Worrying can increase stress and waste many hours unnecessarily.  There are several techniques available to help control worrying, perspective, imagining the best scenario, and positive self-reassurance.  To find out more on how to worry less click here.

Build Your Resilience

Resilience allows your mind and body to cope with everyday stressors and helps you adapt to stressful situations.  It is a skill that can be learned and developed.  To read more about resilience check out this site.

Take Control of Your Environment

If you get anxious watching the evening news, turn it off.   If someone you spend time with constantly makes you angry limit your visitation with that person.  Learn to say no.  To read more about taking control of your environment visit this link.

Seek Therapy

Apple Counseling has a number of therapists to get you through stressful situations. Check out our collection of therapists to learn more.