Stress is part of our lives. Learning what helps us to cope and manage it can help us to feel more capable and improve our relationship with ourselves. 

Worksheet with colorful boxes all listing ways to cope with stress
Try out this list of several different ways to cope with stress. Check off anything you already do or would consider trying. Keep it and use when you are feeling overwhelmed by stress.

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation of your muscles reduces heart rate and blood pressure, as well as slowing respiration rates. Deep muscle relaxation can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. The body responds to anxiety-producing thoughts and events with muscle tension, which in turn increases anxiety. Muscle relaxation reduces tension and is incompatible with anxiety.

The Benson Relaxation technique involves tensing individual muscle groups for several seconds and releasing the tension—allowing the muscles to gradually relax.

Deep Breathing

Proper breathing is essential for good mental and physical health. The next time you feel a surge of stress, try a few moments of deep breathing.

Sit in a comfortable position and take deep, measured breaths, e.g. inhaling while counting up from 1 to 4 and exhaling while counting down from 4 to 1. Deep breathing assists in relaxation by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body. There are many breathing techniques you can learn.


Sometimes we become tense and overwhelmed by thinking about all the things we need to get done or what we didn’t get done. Sometimes we give ourselves negative messages without really realizing it (negative self-talk). In order to overcome stressful and negative thoughts, you can use the power of your imagination to refocus your mind on positive, healing images. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and visualize a scene or place that you associate with safety and relaxation. It doesn’t matter what you visualize, as long as it’s calming to you. As you relax your mind, your body also relaxes. Guided imagery can really help.