Stress Less, Live More!


| Written by Jessica Lelinho, MA, LPC, LCADC

Do you feel like your life is chaotic? Always feeling tense or stressed about something? I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced stress at some point in our lives. Now I’m not saying that we like stress or feeling stressed out, but some stress is good stress. It’s when stress becomes too much and we feel like it’s debilitating our lives that we need to question if we’re truly handling the stress well. 

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What is Stress?

Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives we will experience stress. While some stress is good, it’s not good when it becomes debilitating and affects our daily life. The APA discusses the effect stress has on our body including mind-body changes that affect our mental and physical health thus reducing our quality of life. 

Stress can affect our mind and body in various ways and this post will focus on addressing stress and tips on how to manage our stress.

Good Stress versus Bad Stress

Good stress (also known as eustress) is short term and it inspires you and motivates you, focuses your energy and enhances performance.

Bad stress (also known as distress) wears you out, leaves you jittery and is harmful to your health. This type of stress can lead to anxiety, confusion, poor concentration and decreased performance. Bad stress can be either short-term (also known as acute stress) or long-term (also known as chronic stress). Chronic stress can not only affect you psychologically but also physically. Chronic stress can lead or cause headaches, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, pain, and high blood pressure. 

Effect of Stress on Our Physical and Mental Health

Stress can not only affect our mental health but it can also affect our physical health. Stress may cause: anxiety, depression, panic attacks, chest pain/racing heart, fatigue/insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, upset stomach, or indigestion. Not addressing our stress can lead to negative coping skills such as: alcohol usage, eating disorders/overeating, smoking, or usage of substances. 

The First Step To Reducing Stress Is Knowing Your Stressors

Knowing what causes you to stress is the first step in decreasing your stress level. Common stressors include: relationships, money, work, unmanaged health or mental health problems, racial inequities, and perceived loss. 

Another stressor that has begun to be studied is the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals. Data has suggested that the long-term stress sustained since the COVID-19 pandemic began has had a significant impact on well-being, evidenced by an increase in chronic illnesses—especially among those between the ages of 35 and 44, which increased from 48% reported in 2019 to 58% in 2023.

Tips on Combating Stress and Stress Management Techniques

Eliminate Stress and Stressors in Areas You’re Able To:

Sometimes, I notice that I tend to say “yes” more often than not. I notice that when I say “yes” instead of “no” I tend to be more stressed. It’s important to learn that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. Reducing stressors that we can control will help decrease our stress levels. 

Accept That Events Can Be Out of Your Control:

Don’t stress about things that we’re not able to be in control of. Why worry about something that you can’t change? Instead, focus on what you can control and change those areas, rather than focusing on those things that are out of our control. 

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Use Relaxation Techniques:

Try going out of your comfort zone and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation or even tai chi or exercise or prayer. Having our focus on something else can distract us from the stressors thus allowing us to think with a clear mind. 

Be Active and Stay Healthy:

Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet will assist in combating stressors. Exercise relaxes the body and mind while also improving our mood. Aim for eating more fruits and vegetables. While we all enjoy the fattier foods and foods with sugar or drinking caffeine, it’s important to cut back on those. 

Change Your Sleeping Patterns:

Be sure to sleep and get enough sleep so you are restful for the next day. Sleep will allow our body to recover from stressful situations so we can handle the next day’s stressors with a clearer mind. Additionally, try not to use electronics before bedtime and create a soothing environment and unwind. 

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Time Management:

Do you feel like there’s so much to do in so little time? Managing our time is an important part of combating and overcoming stress. Focus on the important tasks first and put the other tasks as secondary. Prioritize the important things; I’m not saying the littlest things are not important either but focus on the tasks that need to be done versus the tasks you want to get done. Focus on your needs not wants and you’ll see the stress level decrease. 

Use Positive Self-Talk vs Negative Self-Talk:

Do you tend to always look for the negative rather than focus on the positive? Do you tend to find yourself having a negative outlook where you feel more judgmental on yourself than positive?  I know that personally, I struggle at times in finding the positive in a situation. It’s important to change those negative thoughts into positive ones. Studies have shown that making an effort to think positively by looking for the upside can change your perspective.

Positive self-talk is when we tell ourselves that we can do it, while negative self-talk is telling ourselves that we can’t do it. The American Heart Association provides examples of negative self-talk turned positive self-talk:

  1. Instead of “I can’t do this,” try saying “I’ll do the best I can, I’ve got this.”
  2. Instead of “I hate it when this happens,” try saying “I know how to deal with this — I’ve done it before.”
  3. Instead of “I feel helpless and alone,” try saying “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
  4. Instead of “I can’t believe I screwed up,” try saying “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix this.”


Do you have a lot on your mind and think about it often? Those stressors that we have on our mind can cause even more stress. Try writing it down to show that while it’s on your mind it’s not taking over your mind. Focus on your accomplishments rather than things that did not get accomplished. 

Use Your Support Network:

Don’t be afraid to utilize your support network. National Alliance on Mental Illness discusses talking to the support network whether that be family or friends, counselor, or support group – just discussing our stress and airing it out helps. Lean on those who support you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 


Stress happens to all of us and it’s important to address our stress when it is debilitating. These are just a few tips on how to deal with stress. 

If you are struggling with stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Struggling with stress is a common symptom of anxiety, depression, and various other mental health challenges. A licensed professional can assist you in overcoming these challenges.

When Jessica is not providing therapy, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, listening to country music, cooking, baking, and going to the beach.

Check out Jessica’s professional bio here

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