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Tips to Reduce Stress

Stop Stress From Taking Over Your Life


Updated March 25, 2009

Stress and anxiety seem to go hand in hand –- increase one and the other will follow. If you have panic disorder, or another anxiety disorder, you probably know firsthand how increased stress worsens your symptoms.

Here are some tips to help you relieve some of your anxiety and feel more in control.

1. Pace Yourself by Setting Reasonable Limits

Taking on too much of anything can increase stress. Sometimes you have to say “no” or just let those things that can wait simmer on the back burner. If it’s not life-threatening, what do you really have to do?

2. Make a Schedule

Are you always feeling rushed to get things done? Perhaps a daily schedule will help you manage your day-to-day responsibilities. Using a schedule, you can better prioritize and put into perspective those things that must be done today and those that can wait until tomorrow. Also, seeing your expectations on paper may help you avoid cramming too many things into a single day. When making your schedule, remember that tasks are not written in stone. It’s wise to allow yourself flexibility.

3. Don’t Forget to Plan for a Little R & R

It is difficult, if not impossible, to run full throttle throughout your day. Rest and relaxation are key to rejuvenating yourself mentally and physically. Make sure your plans allow some time for yourself to unwind or enjoy some pleasant recreational activities.

4. Plan Ahead

Think about your stress triggers –- the kids, your boss, your co-workers. Try to imagine positive ways to deal with difficult situations that you often encounter. Make a plan to counter your stress and put it into action. Using positive self-talk or removing yourself from a stressful situation for a short time can allow you to lessen your anxiety and reclaim your sense of control.

5. Practice Relaxation Techniques Daily

Deep Breathing: Make the most of managing your anxiety by practicing proper breathing.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: If you’re constantly feeling stressed, chronic muscle tension may be so automatic that it seems normal, and you may have forgotten what it feels like when your muscles are completely relaxed.

Visualization: By imagining yourself in a peaceful, stress-free setting, you can reach a state of mental and physical relaxation. For example, imagine yourself sitting by a beautiful, peaceful lake. Focus on the scene for a period of time. Feel the soft sand on the bottom of your feet. As a gentle breeze sweeps across the water, imagine the warm air on your face as you watch a magnificent sunset on the horizon.

6. Share Your Feelings

Keeping your stress to yourself doesn’t make it go away. Many people find that talking to a supportive friend or loved one makes them feel better. Sharing is also a great way to learn that you are not alone; many people you know may be experiencing similar feelings. If you don’t have a good support person, talk to a therapist or other mental health professional.


Breaking Free From Anxiety Disorders – Self-Care Handbook. (1998). Deerfield, MA: Channing L. Bete Co.  

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