How to manage stress and anxiety

Tyler York
How to manage stress and anxiety

If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone – according to the American Psychological Association, 75% of American adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month.

Encountering difficult situations is part of everyday life, and learning how to manage stress and anxiety is a valuable skill. We can’t always control these challenging events, but we can improve how we react to them, leading to healthier outcomes for us and those around us.

Identifying stress

Knowing the symptoms of stress can help you identify when you are stressed. Stress can cause the following:

  • Feeling afraid, angry, sad, worried, numb, or frustrated
  • Changes in your energy, interests, desires, and appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, focusing on work, or making decisions
  • Physical reactions, including: exhaustion, headaches, body aches, jaw tension and clenching, stomach problems, chest pains, digestive issues, or skin rashes
  • Increased medical complications, such as: high blood pressure, decreased immune system, worsening of chronic health conditions, or worsening mental health
  • Increased use of substances, including: alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription drugs such as opioids

For immediate help

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please immediately contact a medical professional.

For emergencies, call 911.
For suicide prevention, call 988.

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides 24/7, free, confidential phone and chat support for people in distress. TTY users can use their preferred relay service, or dial 711 then 988.

Photo by Alex Lucru

Healthy ways to cope with stress

Everyone experiences stress, anxiety, grief, worry, frustration, and more at different times – this is normal and you are not alone. The important thing is to remember that you are in control, and you can employ different strategies to manage your stress. Here are some healthy ways to cope with stress:

Put limits on whatever is creating stress for you consistently. For instance, if you are stressed by negative news on social media, then it might benefit you to limit that consumption to a small amount of time per day.

Change your scenery. Going outside for a walk or moving from one room to another can give you space to relax, and come back with a clearer mind.

Exercise. Even light exercise can make a huge difference in how you feel in a stressful situation and how your body responds to stress. Going for a walk is a great way to change your scenery, disconnect from devices, and exercise – all in one. Try to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day, with a long term goal of consistently exercising 2 and a half hours per week.

Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to stress and make you feel more stressed out than you normally would. Most adults need 7 or more hours of sleep per night, and getting that amount of sleep consistently will make a big difference. Sleep on a consistent schedule to get better sleep.

Photo by Ross Helen

Eat healthy. Focus your diet on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low or no-fat dairy products. Limit foods that have unhealthy fats, salt, or added sugars. See the CDC’s guidelines for healthy eating for more tips.

Limit alcohol intake. Try to avoid drinking every day, and drink in moderation when you do. According to the CDC, moderation means having 2 drinks or less per day for men, and 1 drink or less per day for women. See the CDC’s Drink Less, Be Your Best page for more tips.

Avoid using illegal drugs or abusing prescription drugs. Using illegal drugs and using prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed can seriously impact your physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re struggling with drugs, consider seeking out substance abuse treatment.

Avoid nicotine and tobacco products, including vapes. Smoking harms the body and your mental health. You can quit smoking for good.

Photo by choreograph

Take time to unwind. This can be as simple as taking a break to do other activities you enjoy. You can also make time for mental calm by taking deep breaths, stretching, or meditating

Connect with others. Whether you discuss your problems with your friends and family or simply spend time with them, taking time to connect with others is a great way to reduce stress.

Continue to make regular health appointments, testing, screenings, and vaccinations. While these appointments can be another thing to keep track of, staying on top of your health ensures that there is nothing else contributing to your circumstances.

75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.

The American Psychological Association,


Whether you’re stressed out right now or dealing with stress regularly, here are some great resources that can help you.

For everyone:

For families and children:

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