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Five Steps to Knock Out Stress

Stress is a part of life, but when it gets out of hand, it can harm your health. It can even make medical symptoms worse. When you feel stressed or anxious, you may notice that your breathing quickens or you become short of breath. Try these five strategies from the American Psychological Association to keep stress from getting the best of you:

1. Learn your signs. Everyone responds differently to stress. Do you get irritable or have trouble concentrating? Do you get a headache or heartburn?

2. Identify the source. Are you worried about finances, health, a problem with a family member, or work deadlines?

3. Take action. If you can't avoid the stressful situation, try to resolve it. For instance, if your stress is due to a packed schedule, learn to set limits, say no, or ask for help.

4. Find time to relax. Relaxation and breathing exercises can slow breathing and loosen tense muscles. Also, visiting with friends, listening to music, meditating, and hobbies are other ways to unwind.

5. Be good to yourself. Find time to exercise, get adequate rest, and eat a healthy diet. Taking time for yourself will help you handle stress better.