NC State Extension Publications


Are you stressed about money? Family? Kids? Your job? You are not alone. In fact, 79 percent of Americans feel they experience higher than healthy levels of stress. Learn about stress to help gain control of it before it gains control of you!

Stress is a reaction to change. When the demands of life override the resources you have, you may become stressed. Stress is a formula of adding up the following:

Life’s DEMANDS + the RESOURCES you have to manage the demands = your response and reaction to the stressor

What Can You Do?

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  • Change the stressor.
  • Change the way you react to the stressor.
  • Review your resources.
  • Practice stress-reducing behaviors.

Changing the Stressor

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Many of us are prone to just live with stressful events. In many cases, however, there are stressors that can be avoided or eliminated:

  • Talk it out. What is the stressor? What can you do about it?

  • Avoid difficult people — focus on positive relationships.

  • Eliminate unnecessary commitments — say “no.”

  • Avoid multitasking — doing one thing at a time is better for you.

  • Avoid trying to control people or circumstances.

Changing Your Reaction to a Stressor

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We are also able to change how we perceive and react to stressors by putting a positive spin on a situation or seeing the sunny side of the situation. Try using the following strategies to change how you react to stressors:

  • Practice seeing the bright side of things.
  • See humor in tough situations.
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude.
  • Adjust your expectations.

Dealing with Stress

  • You have a choice. Stress can control your life, or you can be resourceful and find a way to control it!
  • Pace yourself. Break the whole plan into smaller parts to manage one step at a time.
  • It is often the small things that send us into a tizzy (like losing your car keys or breaking a dish).
  • It is not stress that makes us stop altogether, but rather our reaction to it.
  • Being flexible and resourceful is key to managing stress.
  • Not all stress is bad; some is motivating and energizing.

Review Your Resources

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Take some time to think of the potential resources you can call upon to help you deal with the stress you are experiencing. Consider the following options for seeking support when you experience stress:

  • Seek supportive people to help you
  • Talk with family, friends, and colleagues about ways to reduce the stress
  • Get help from your faith community, government agencies and non-profits

Stress-Reducing Behaviors

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There are a lot of specific behaviors you can undertake to reduce stress:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Engage in physical activity (stretching, walking, dancing).
  • Practice relaxation (slow intentional breathing, positive visualization).
  • Learn to manage your anger.
  • Simplify and reduce your to-do list.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Appreciate the positive — engage in positive self-talk.
  • Find opportunities to help others and serve your community.


Skip to Acknowledgment

This is an adaptation of a publication originally written by former Family and Consumer Sciences specialists.


Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist
Agricultural & Human Sciences

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Publication date: Nov. 4, 2020

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