Stress Strategies

Richel Stropky and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Everyone deals with stress. For some people, it’s daily – people with anxiety, depression, or high-stress lives. For others it can come occasionally with life changes or random stressful situations. Whether we realize it or not, we cope with stress in some way or another. Many times we choose unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating, drinking, smoking, or zoning out on our television or phone.

Stress is one of the main road blocks to a healthy lifestyle. When we’re working hard to lose weight, exercise, eat healthier, and reduce our blood pressure, stress will pop up and be one of the first things to derail us. In order to take control of stress before it derails you, the first step is to realize when you have stress, and the second step is to choose a healthy coping mechanism.

What’s Stress?

Sometimes we don’t realize we are experiencing stress until after the fact. Learning to identify it quickly helps to address is sooner, prevent it from getting worse, and to choose good self-care options. Here is a quick list of symptoms that may be indicators of stress:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Being tired, loss of sleep
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestion and stomach problems
  • Acne or skin problems
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nausea or other gastrointestional issues

Once a day, check in with yourself – ask yourself “how am I feeling today?” Do I have any of the above symptoms? Am I being kind to myself? Have I taken on too many commitments? A moment of reflection will go a long way toward identifying stress and addressing it.


If you’re feeling stressed, addressing it right away will help reduce it and keep it from progressing each day. We’ve put together a list of healthy coping strategies to try – maybe some of these can be added to your daily routine:

  1. Take a bath or shower to relax your muscles and mind. Bonus if you have a hot tub.
  2. Take a nap, or lie down and breathe quietly
  3. Talk to a friend – the one who always makes you laugh
  4. Write in a journal
  5. Take a brisk walk
  6. Read a book
  7. Avoid buying decisions
  8. Take a hike
  9. Go for a bike ride
  10. Go swimming
  11. Make an appointment with a counselor through your work EAP program. Consider a therapist who uses biofeedback techniques.
  12. Make an appointment with a credit counselor
  13. Make an appointment with a financial adviser
  14. Learn or practice meditation
  15. Pray/Connect with your spiritual place
  16. Learn or practice yoga
  17. Play with your dog, cat or other pet
  18. Listen to an audio guided meditation – find on YouTube or Podcast
  19. Self-massage (progressive muscle relaxation) -- can be done with a foam roller or guided relaxation audio where you tense and release different muscle groups.
  20. Get a professional massage
  21. Address conflict right away
  22. Take a vacation, the type where you have nothing planned
  23. Reduce your work hours
  24. Delegate chores at home, or delegate work to others at the office
  25. Cook a healthy meal
  26. Nurture yourself – take time for you
  27. Make a quick list of things you’re grateful for
  28. Listen to music you love and dance
  29. Visit an art museum
  30. Reconnect with your hobbies
  31. Make a “to do” list – getting the thoughts out of your brain and on to paper helps reduce stress and can even help you identify those items that really aren’t a priority
  32. Forgive yourself for any bad choices, let it go, and start new right now
  33. Say no to something that’s not a priority for you
  34. Work in your yard or garden
  35. Plan your day for tomorrow

Stress is a complicated state, and affects everyone differently. Talk to your Take Control health coach to make a plan that works best for you. We can help you identify resources, strategies, and options that you may not have thought about. We’re here to help.