Adults in the US are stressed out. From overwork to tension at home, stress is a universal experience, and 3 out of 4 adults feel the symptoms. (1) While stress is inevitable, how we choose to manage it can be the difference between thriving and feeling overwhelmed.

It is essential to have a plan for managing feelings of stress. Allowing stress to accumulate can lead to poor mental health and decreased happiness. You need healthy boundaries to prevent excess stress and daily practices that relieve the feelings as they arise.

Use A Five-Step Plan

1. Say No

It is much easier to say yes to all the things asked of us, but this is the road to being overcommitted and overwhelmed. When we have too much on our plate, stress is sure to follow. Saying no is an essential skill.

The biggest hold-up to saying no is often a desire to please other people. While this can be a noble impulse, when satisfying someone else comes at the expense of our mental and emotional health, it is destructive behavior. Letting go of the need to make everyone happy makes refusing possible.

You are the only one who can create healthy boundaries in your life against stress. Be firm about declining “to do’s” that will push you past your healthy limit.

Emotional health: Learn to say no

2. Engage in Regular Moderate-intensity Exercise

While all types of movement can reduce stress, regularly doing exercise that gets your heart pumping can have potent benefits. Moderate-intensity exercise releases endorphins that minimize feelings of anxiety, as well as neurochemicals that elevate your mood. (2) This doesn’t mean you need to start running several miles every day, but at least a few times a week, engage in 10 to 20 minutes of movement that gets your heart rate up.

Dealing with stress: Engage in Regular Moderate-intensity Exercise

3. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is when the brain rests and recovers. Insufficient sleep leads to a stressed-out brain while being stressed can make it difficult to get restful sleep. (3) This can turn into a problematic cycle.

To break the cycle, make sure you allow adequate time for a full night’s sleep. Institute a nightly routine that will enable you to wind down and get sleepy. Meditating before bed has been shown to improve sleep quality (4) and be a valuable piece of a nightly routine.

Wellness Tool: Get Enough Sleep

4. Meditate

In addition to meditation’s beneficial effect on sleep quality, meditation decreases feelings of stress in general. (5) Find time to meditate daily at whatever time of day works in your schedule. The most important thing is to be consistent to get the maximum benefit.

Stress management: Meditate

5. Find Something Funny

Laughter releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that boost our mood and decrease stress. (6) Looking at funny memes, watching a favorite comedy, or playing a goofy game with family can all be part of your stress management plan.

Dealing with stress: Find Something Funny

Taking Stress Seriously

Stress will build up if we don’t have a plan to manage it. It is tempting to feel as though we do not have time to address the problem, but in reality, letting stress multiply uncheck will make us less productive and more unhappy. To live a life we enjoy, we have to take stress seriously. The benefits of doing so will enrich every part of us.