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Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing to do about stress. Bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day and work and family responsibilities are always demanding. However, you have much more control than you might think. Realizing that you’re in control of your life is the key to stress management. Stress management is all about taking care of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions and the way you handle problems. No matter how stressful life is, there are steps you can take to relieve pressure and find control.

Step One-Identify sources of stress in your life

Stress management begins by identifying the sources of stress in your life. It can be easy to identify major stressors like changing jobs, moving or going through a divorce, but pinpointing sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. It’s easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors contribute to everyday stress levels. To identify true sources of stress, look closely at habits, attitude and excuses.

Step Two-Replace unhealthy strategies with healthy ones

Think about how you currently manage or cope with stress in your life. A stress journal can help you identify them. Unhealthy ways of coping include smoking, using pills, drinking too much, withdrawing from friends and family, participating in dangerous activities, bingeing on junk food, procrastinating, filling up the day to avoid problems, sleeping too much and taking the stress out of others.

Step Three-Get moving

When you’re stressed, you probably don’t feel like getting out and exercising. However, physical activity is a huge stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and can also serve as a valuable distraction from daily worries. You’ll get the most benefit from exercising for 30 minutes or more, but it is okay to build up your fitness level gradually. Even small activities like walking the dog, dancing around the house, walking to the store and using the stairs will help incorporate exercise into your daily schedule.

Connect to Others

Spending time with another person who makes you feel safe and understood is a great way to calm down. Face-to-face interaction is a natural stress reliever, so make it a point to regularly connect with family and friends. Loved ones don’t need to fix your stress; they just need to be good listeners. Try not to let your worries about looking weak keep you from opening up. This type of conversation will only strengthen your bond. Maintain a network of close friends to improve your resiliency to life’s stressors