Simple Tips to Stay Sane When You Are Under Stress


  1. Set minimum guidelines or standards for yourself for sleep, exercise, etc.  For example, make sure you get 8 hours of sleep 4 nights a week, even if you have to burn the midnight oil a few other nights (figure out how you can stick to these healthy behaviors most of the time).  Don’t get caught up in a prolonged cycle without adequate sleep or exercise, which can worsen stress-related problems.
  2. Stay positive.  Focus on what there is to celebrate in the moment, rather than on what’s wrong (there’s always something wrong, but we don’t have to make it our focus).  Research has proven that gratitude increases well-being.
  3. Be present in your life.  Stay in the now.  You are more likely to experience the state of “flow,” a process of genuine engagement in life that makes life more satisfying.  We are not in “flow” when we watch too much TV or space or veg out, for example. Or when we only focus on the to-do list…
  4. Find 5-10 minutes a day to practice mindfulness meditation (especially loving-kindness meditation). Research has demonstrated that even 70-minutes total of meditation a week significantly improves mood and health. (See Barbara Fredrickson’s website:
  5. Remember your “why” and identify your strengths ( or and your core values (what you really care about and want your life to be for). Use your strengths and values every day. This gives life meaning and purpose even when it is stressful. Research also shows that people who are clear about their “why” and who use strengths daily are happier and healthier.
  6. Set limits on electronic communications, such as identifying times you will check e-mail and times you will not.  Take Facebook off your phone for a month. Leave your phone downstairs when you go to bed. These strategies will help you to not be pulled into unnecessary distractions, get more done, and feel more present, connected, and relaxed.
  7. Don’t be isolated. Have at least one or two people in your life that you spend time with, talk to and socialize with.  Loneliness and social isolation are associated with a number of health and mental health problems.
  8. Finally, let go of perfectionism about even trying these strategies! Instead, try “tiny behavioral experiments” and tweak your changes as you go. Remember we are all works in progress and changing old habits of dealing with stress will take time and practice!