Coping With Stress

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Harvard Medical School
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Coping With Stress

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Coping With Stress
Coping With Stress
The uncertainty of having a chronic illness creates stress in and of itself.
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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Coping With Stress

Stress is a part of life. But it can affect health if the stress becomes persistent. Learning to relieve stress not only makes you feel better, it decreases your risk of medical illness. Here are some ways to reduce your stress.

Adjust your attitude. You may find it easier to cope with stress by focusing on three ideas: challenge, control and commitment.

  • Try to interpret stressful situations as challenges, not as threats.
  • Determine what you can control; sometimes the only thing you will be able to control in a stressful situation is the way you respond, but that’s a start.
  • Make a commitment to be good to yourself by eating healthfully, thinking positively and maintaining relationships with people you care about.

Learn to problem solve. A good method is to think through difficult situations systematically.

  • Break problems into smaller pieces to make them less overwhelming
  • Focus on problems that really need your attention and leave the rest
  • Know your limits
  • Learn to be flexible
  • Be realistic about your choices

Communicate. Keeping your troubles inside only adds to stress. Find someone safe to talk to about your worries; it will reduce stress and help you deal with practical problems. Consider participating in a support group.

Exercise. Regular exercise reduces stress. It helps protect the cardiovascular and immune systems from the consequences of stressful events. Whether it’s swimming, walking or another form of exercise, find time to do the activity on a regular basis.

Take control of your diet and your sleep.

An unhealthy diet and poor quality sleep add to the negative effects of ongoing stress. It can be a cycle that’s a challenge to break. If you’re stressed you are more likely to not eat well and have difficulty sleeping. Take time for relaxation techniques, especially before getting into bed.



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Last updated June 09, 2014

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