Do you feel you’re under too much stress? Common stressors include not having enough time, getting more than you can handle, or having expectations that aren’t met. Often, stress can make a person practice unhealthy habits, such as eating unhealthy foods, skipping exercise, or excessive drinking. What can you do to avoid this?

When stress attacks, you may have a greater chance of fighting it back successfully if you act quickly. Next time stress levels rise, try to stave it off on-the-spot with the following practical methods:

  • Count to ten before you begin to speak. Take several deep, focused breaths.
  • Walk away from the situation that is stressing you out and settle on handling it later.
  • Take a walk or safe, slow drive. New research suggests that parks and green spaces (even in cities) make people happier. Find an urban green space in your city that you can retreat to in case of a stress emergency.
  • If you just made a mistake, don’t hesitate or underestimate the benefits of saying “I’m sorry”.
  • If you have a tendency of being late and this becomes a common stressor, set your watch or clock five to ten minutes ahead to avoid being late.
  • Take apart a big problem so that you have several smaller problems to tackle individually.
  • Enjoy a simple pleasure in life, such as a smile, hugging someone dear to you, or smelling a flower.

According to the American Heart Association, these emergency stress stoppers can be combined or individually selected based on the situation you are dealing with. What works best for you? Write it down. Post it on your desk or work area as a reminder.

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (2), pp 1247–1255