Coping with Stress
Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will help you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Stress can cause the following:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration.
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests.
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions.
- Nightmares or problems sleeping.
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes.
- Worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs (like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine), and misuse of prescription drugs (like opioids).
Here are some ways you can manage stress, anxiety, grief, or worry:
- Take breaks from news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but constant information about negative events can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.
- Take care of your body: Staying physically healthy can improve your emotional well-being. Here are some ways to improve your health:
- Eat healthy. Have fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat or no-fat dairy. Limit foods with unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugars. See Healthy Eating Tips.
- Get enough sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to help you sleep better. Adults need 7 or more hours per night.
- Move more and sit less. Every little bit of physical activity helps. Start small and build up to 2 ½ hours a week. You can break it into smaller amounts such as 20 to 30 minutes a day.
- Limit alcohol intake. Choose not to drink, or drink in moderation on days you drink alcohol. Moderation means having 2 drinks or less a day for men or 1 drink or less for women. Find out more at Drink Less, Be Your Best.
- Avoid using illegal drugs or prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed. Don’t take someone else’s prescription. Substance use treatment is available, and recovery starts with asking for help.
- Avoid smoking, vaping, and the use of other tobacco products. People can and do quit smoking for good.
- Continue with regular health appointments, tests, screenings, and vaccinations.
- Make time to unwind.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others.
- Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community-based or faith-based organizations.
- How Right Now — Finding What Helps
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- Suicide Prevention
- I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet (NIMH)
- Mindfulness Coach – PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)
For Families and Children