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Quick and Easy Stress Management

We all have our natural tendencies when stressed. Some get irritable; some shut down; some procrastinate; some dive in with both feet until they’re physically and emotionally spent. Here are quick, easy, and healthier alternatives.

1)  Whatever you find yourself wanting to do when overwhelmed, breathe deeply instead.

That means if you would normally be complaining about the other drivers, breathe instead. If you would normally be snapping at a loved one, breathe. If you would normally be mentally removing yourself from an entire situation, breathe.

You get the drift.

2)  Count your blessings.

Really, make a list and then revisit it often. It’s a shortcut gratitude journal, and studies have shown again and again that gratitude helps, if you remember to do it. The repetition is key.

Being grateful leads to greater kindness and compassion toward yourself and others, and that’s a great attitude to cultivate, especially in times of stress.

3)  Slow down.

It might sound counterintuitive but slowing down and leaving more time will make you feel more relaxed and you’ll actually be more productive. Rushing everywhere at the last minute only increases stress. So set your alarm for a bit earlier, leave well  before you think you need to, and stop telling your kids to hurry up, hurry up.

4)  Be fully present.

Wherever you are, be there 100%. Don’t spend your time in one place thinking of all you need to do somewhere else. It doesn’t help you get more done, and it removes much of the enjoyment from the present moment.

Sometimes a mantra like “I’m here now” can help. Or more deep breathing. When your mind wanders, gently and compassionately bring it back to the present moment.

Speaking of mantras, they can be very helpful in times of stress. Even something like “This, too, shall pass” to remind you that the situation is temporary can be calming. Try out different ones on your nervous system. See what resonates for you.

5)  Schedule pleasurable activities.

Don’t forget to enjoy your life. Even if you can only schedule 15 minutes or an hour, do it. It’s worth it.

Happy driver photo available from Shutterstock

Quick and Easy Stress Management

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2015). Quick and Easy Stress Management. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Jun 2015
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