Everyone tends to become overwhelmed and stressed out at times. Stress is beneficial when it gives us the boost, we need to get through situations like work deadlines of website design or exams. However, extreme stress has adverse health consequences that affect many of the bodily systems. Unless you learn how to manage your stress, you will suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically. Managing your stress can take some practice, but it is possible. Here are 5 helpful tips to help you remain calm and relaxed.

1. Get regular physical exercise

The ancient “fight or flight” response is still activated when we feel stressed. More adrenaline and cortisol are generated to prepare us for action. Physical exercise metabolizes these excess stress hormones and restores the body to a calm, relaxed state. Any exercise is better than none. At the very least, try to exercise for three to five times a week for half an hour. Try to include some vigorous exercise like swimming or jogging to get your heart rate up and running. When you feel particularly stressed, take a quick, brisk walk.

2. Learn and practice relaxation techniques

If you can slow down your mind and body long enough to realize that you are not in mortal danger, you can remain calm. One way to do this is by breathing deeply. Another straightforward technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has significance for you. Repeat this word or phrase if you find yourself becoming tense. Relaxation lowers your pulse rate, respiration, and blood pressure. When you combine different techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga, you can significantly lower your stress levels, elevate your mood, and improve your ability to focus.

3. Change your attitude to stress

Everyone experiences stress, but how you manage it makes the difference. Try to think of it as a challenge, because you are unlikely to be able to avoid it altogether. Reversing negative attitudes can help reduce tension. For instance, your stress may be triggered by a problem that you think is impossible to solve. Try writing down your question and come up with as many solutions as possible. Write down the pros and cons of each one. Once you have settled on a possible solution, note all the steps you will need to take to put it into action. This process can help you get out of a negative, panic-stricken state of mind and puts the rational part of your brain back in control.

4. Learn how to say no

A common cause of stress is having too little time to accomplish what you must do. Often, we create stress because we cannot say “no.” We take on additional responsibilities even when we know we do not have time for them. There are many reasons people cannot say “no.” They may fear conflict or rejection. Try to understand why you find it difficult to say “no.” You must know and accept your limits. You do not have to respond with a blunt “no.” Learn how to phrase your “no” in ways that let people down gently.

5. Keep a stress diary

Keeping a stress diary can help you to learn how to manage your stress by making you more aware of situations that cause it. Keep a record of the date, time, and place when you feel stressed out. Perhaps you could give each occasion a stress rating on a scale of one to ten. Note what you were doing at the time and who you were with. Use this diary to try to understand your personal stress triggers. Identify activities you can modify or eliminate. Think of ways you could handle stressful situations differently and coping techniques you could use.