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Stress Management Health Center

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Putting the Reins on Stress

Putting the Reins on Stress

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Learn to be assertive, to set boundaries. "If you can really understand your own priorities, then you can set boundaries for how much you will or won't do in certain situations," she says. "That doesn't mean that you neglect regular responsibilities. But if you can set boundaries to set aside time for walking, yoga, being with friends, you will feel more in control of your life."

Spending 10 minutes a day to write what you're feeling -- all those distressing emotions -- helps you put them behind you, says Clance. "When people don't feel comfortable talking about their problems, writing can be helpful, help you focus inward. Then you have to get away from it, focus on something that's not stressful, something in your daily activities. Finding something that distracts you is very important."

But stress is part of life -- and accepting that fact also helps, says G. Ken Goodrick, PhD, associate professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is also author of the book Energy, Peace, Purpose.

"As Shakespeare said, 'There's nothing neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so,'" Goodrick notes. "Stress is always in the background. It's just that these other events have elevated it."

With the right kind of positive outlook on life -- the right kind of personal energy -- "you can get through almost anything, except maybe severe physical pain or threat of death," he says. "You just say, 'that's life, I'll just do what I can.'"

Nutrition, sleep, exercise -- all those things help us manage stress, give us peace. Then we must do something with that peace -- "instead of wallowing in narcissism," he says.

"Sharing your life with others in a meaningful way -- that's the root of happiness according to all the great research, all the religions, all the philosophies," Goodrick tells WebMD. "Everything about happiness and meaning in life has to do with productive interpersonal relationships."

"The recent crises should be a stimulus for people to think about their lives," he says. "People spend too much time wondering if their SUV is big enough, not thinking about the important things. People pay more attention to the care of their cars and their dogs than they give to care of mind and body."

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