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  • Roberta Whitney Hughes

Making Friends with Stress

Updated: Mar 2

Understanding Stress: I have good news and bad news.

I’ll give you the bad news first. It isn’t possible to get rid of stress. In fact, it is inevitable that stress will show up in your life every single day. As your body and mind experience stress, learning how to take action and work through it will actually strengthen your ability to manage stressful situations.


This leads me to the good news. It is possible to create a healthy relationship with stress. By working through stressful situations, you become more able to manage them.


Let’s take a look at five simple ways to make friends with your stress:

Get to know your symptoms of stress. Common symptoms of stress include headache, loss of focus, tense muscles, anxiety, insomnia, stomach ache, and irritability. To get to know how your body responds to stress, try keeping a journal of symptoms for 1-2 weeks to identify common patterns.


Identify the things that trigger your stress. Once you know what triggers stress, you can begin to manage your exposure to it. Possible triggers may exist in your work environment, in certain relationships, or in the schedule you keep and activities you choose. As you begin to journal your symptoms, make a note of the situations that trigger the symptom.


Set healthy boundaries to reduce exposure to stress triggers. While you may not be able to change your work environment, or your schedule, you might have the ability to structure your day so that you have less exposure to toxic people and energy sucking situations.

Give these a try:

  • Limit the number of hours you spend on work each week, especially if you work from home. Set your work hours and hold yourself accountable so that you still have some down time.

  • Set aside time each day for self-care or a hobby. If a block of time isn’t available right now, start with ten minutes and form the habit. Once the habit is formed, you can begin to stretch the time.

  • Space out appointments (hair, dentist, doctor, etc) along with meetings, lunch dates, and other commitments. Cramming in appointments can leave you feeling boxed in by your calendar, and your stress level will soar.

  • Keep some open space in your calendar. Aim to not have every hour blocked out so you can see some white space. White space offers a sense of freedom for your brain and reduces the symptoms of stress.

  • Limit screen time and exposure to social media posts. Aim for digital downtime each day. Try carving out time at lunch or the hour before you go to bed. Time away from the screen lets your brain rest and reduces reactivity and negative thinking.

  • Practice saying no to the things that send your stress to unhealthy levels.

Start a self-care practice that supports your ability to rest and recover. Rest is crucial in helping your body and brain manage stress in a healthy way. A few practices that have proven to help reduce stress levels include:

  • yoga

  • meditation

  • sleep

  • facial massage

  • walks in nature

  • breathing exercises

  • Journaling

Give yourself a break. Some days it will be easier to manage stressful situations and toxic people. Other days, your stress triggers may be firing on all cylinders. On the days when stress seems to be getting the best of you, be kind to yourself. Offer yourself patience and grace. Managing stress is a practice. Be willing to make mistakes and learn through the process.

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