The 12 Ways I Manage Stress

Feeling blue?

Life got you down?

Are you feeling stressed out?  Here are 12 methods I’ve learned to manage my stress:


#1 Stretching


I spend a lot of hours at the computer so getting up to stretch is critical for getting all the kinks out of my neck and shoulders.  I purchased a deck of “Yoga Cards” awhile back which give me lots of ideas for stretching. Someone also gave me a great book on stretching a few years ago which you can find at or perhaps your local library. (Note: The author is a different Bob Anderson in case you were wondering).


I’ve also discovered stretching works best if I visually focus on something farther away. Since most of my computer work is two feet in front of my eyes they get pretty tired if I don’t give them a break.


#2 Go For A Walk


I love the beach.

Find a way to take a break. Do it with a friend.

Walking or any gentle exercise you can manage is great for getting the blood circulating. I love walking at quiet places like a park or on a beach if I can locate one nearby. I try to avoid high traffic roads since the added noise can sometimes add to my stress. Walking is free, it reduces calories, I get fresh air (providing I do it outside) and it is a great way to share some time with my friends and loved ones.


#3 Take A Nap


When I can, I love taking a short “power nap” (preferably 20 minutes max).  I wake up refreshed and recharged after short naps, though longer ones will sometime leave me groggy or mess with my night time sleep schedule.


#4 Take A Hot Shower Or Bath


Nothing can work out the kicks like a good soak in hot water.  When I can, I love soaking in a hot spa, or if one isn’t available, I’ll sometimes use the bath tub.  Unfortunately, I’m too tall to fit very well in a standard bath so I’ll often resort to a shower instead.  One side benefit: The steam also helps clear my sinuses.


#5 Work Out At The Gym


Regular exercise at the gym works wonders for reducing my stress, plus it’s great for my waistline, too.  I enjoy a good cardio workout using an elliptical trainer at my local YMCA. I like the fact that elliptical trainers work both my upper and lower body muscles at the same time.  Plus, they take a lot of the knee and feet joint stress out of the equation for me.


#6 Cut Back On Caffeine


Sparkling water is refreshing.

Water anyone?

When I start to feel hyped up, it’s a good sign I may be consuming too much caffeine.  Though I usually limit my coffee to one “over-sized” mocha in the morning, I can easily overdo soda at the restaurant, especially when they offer free refills.  I also try to keep sugar intake to a minimum while drinking anything containing caffeine, preferring sugar substitutes and diet cola to higher calorie options.


#7 Call A Friend


Share your troubles with a friend.

Sharing a problem is a great way to reduce internal stress.

Sometimes the best way I can relieve stress is to find someone to talk it out with.  I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful partner who is usually very willing to listen to me.  In a way, she’s my built-in system of support.  However, when I’m stressed out all the time, it’s better when I can find some other people I can count on to talk about my problems.  Otherwise, I can end up adding to my partner’s stress, and that, in turn, can come back around and add more to mine.



#8 Get and Give A Hug


Have you had a hug today?  I can’t describe how much better I feel when offered a good hug.  I’ve read that North Carolina researchers demonstrated that a hug (and other close touching like cuddling) actually reduce certain hormones and increase others with the overall effect of reducing stress, heart rate, etc.  For more information on the benefits to hugging see this brief post at


#9 Get Some Quiet Time


A beautiful sunset.

Pick any good quiet spot, then sit back and relax.

I don’t know about you, but when I have deadlines and people needing my attention, not to mention phone calls, emails, etc., I get mentally fried pretty fast.  Sometimes the only solution is shut the world out.  I know a lot of people use meditation for this purpose.  I’ve never had any formal training in meditation, though I have found my own version to be helpful.  Here’s what I do:  1) Seek a quiet place.  2) Stretch for a couple minutes.  3) Sit or lie back on a comfortable chair or surface.  4) Shut my eyes and focus on nothing but my breath.  If my mind wanders, I will sometimes try to create a mental image of air that flows into my lungs, joins my bloodstream, rushes down my veins, and then recharges each and every cell in my body.


#10 Savor A Treat


One strategy I sometimes employ for reducing stress is treat myself to something I really like.  For example, I may reward myself for getting something done with a piece of delicious dark chocolate candy.  Or, if it’s later in the day, I might poor a glass of my favorite wine and go sit outside on the deck to enjoy the air and sunshine.  It doesn’t always have to include food, either.  I can take a 20 minute break and pull out a novel as I really enjoy reading.  Or I could spend some time in front of the fireplace watching the coals burning bright.  Treating myself this way brings a sense of balance back into my life.


#11 Make A List


I’ve found written lists to be most helpful when I can’t fall asleep at night.  This usually becomes a necessity when the mental list in my head starts to add up and I start stressing whether I’ll remember everything in the morning.  However, a list is helpful almost any time. Writing things down on paper can give me the opportunity to sort out my priorities. Knowing what order to tackle things will often be enough to eliminate some of my stress.


#12 Clean My Workspace


As I get busier and busier I often let the order I prefer in my workspace turn into chaos.  As a result, papers will begin to pile up, pencils and pens will disappear under them, and empty coffee cups or plates will end up strewn all about.  If I spend a little time to clean up and sort out the mess, I often discover I feel better about myself and more confident I can put the rest of my life back into some kind of order.


Got a favorite way you manage stress?  How about sharing it with our readers?


Looking for a good book to read and de-stress?


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