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9 Practical Ways to Handle Stress

Stress is a fact of life for all of us. In small doses, our bodies and minds are able to function and flourish just fine. The problems begin when we start to experience large amounts of stress, or small amounts over an extended period of time. A good example of this can be demonstrated by imagining you extending your arms out with a glass of water in each hand. This activity should not pose a difficult problem, but what about after holding out your arms for five minutes. How are you feeling after an hour, two hours or even a day? If you replace the glasses of water with stress, you can begin to see the impact that stress can have on the human body over extended periods of time.

Below are some practical steps that can be used for dealing with your stress.

  1. Organize. The first thing to do is make a complete list of all the activities and projects that are causing you distress. Once you have a master list, you need to review it honestly. Go over each project and prioritize its importance based on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 represents no priority and 10 represents the highest priority.

  2. Focus. Start focusing on 10s, then the 9s and so on. If you never complete anything that is a 7 or less, then it’s probably not a real priority anyway. What you will discover is that after completing the 8s through 10s, some priorities will move up and others will simply fall off the list.

  3. Apply. Remember that your to-do list applies to more than projects; it can also apply to time management or even family event planning. The point is that it can be applied to many different areas of your personal and professional life.

  4. Negotiate. Now that you have your list of top priorities, it’s time to see if other people can help you. It’s time to negotiate. This is where you arrange for your older children to drive your younger children to their places instead of you. It’s the time to see if your whole department really needs to have daily conference calls, or if a weekly meeting might not be more effective. Take some time to really examine how you might negotiate some of your priorities off of your list.

  5. Establish. This is the point where you need to establish clear boundaries for yourself and others. You have to understand that stress isn’t going anywhere, if you’re a people pleaser who can’t say no. Learn the power of the word “no” and start treating your time and energy as precious and limited resources.

  6. Laugh. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is humor. Something that I like to have my clients do is watch YouTube for 15 minutes each day. The only rule is that you have to watch something that makes you laugh…not just smile. Humor has wonderful effects, both psychologically and physically.

  7. Exercise. Get physical with your body. Hit the gym, take a walk or even take a swim. Exercise is a great method for combating stress. And while you getting physical; don’t forget to say no to caffeine and sugary foods. These will only add to your already existing stress levels.

  8. Sleep. Everyone is always telling you that you need to get enough sleep, but did you ever wonder why? Sleep is essential to all aspects of our mental and physical health. Without enough sleep, your stress will dramatically increase.

  9. Recharge. The last thing to do is recharge your battery daily. Each of us has to take some time each day to do the things that provide us with energy. Whether yours is reading, listening to music or even skateboarding, do something every day that give you back your energy. In other words, be nice to yourself.

If you have any questions or comments, please send me (Daryl Gessner) an email to You can also visit our website for additional articles about mental health at

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