What to do when stress strikes

Gonzales said it’s important to build up your resilience, which he defined as “your mind and body’s ability to bounce back from stress.”

“There are many ways we can work on strengthening our resilience and coping adaptively with stress including engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors like physical activity/exercise, healthy eating, getting restful sleep, connecting socially with others, and spirituality,” he said.

Gonzalez further explained that, just like we experience a stress response, we also can experience a relaxation response.

“You can create or elicit this response by repeatedly bringing your attention to a focal point (e.g., your breath, a positive image, word, phrase), while remaining open to the experience,” he said.

Gonzalez also noted that meditation exercises, deep breathing, guided imagery, yoga, and prayers can produce a relaxation response.

“These practices can be helpful in the immediate management of stress and they can be helpful in strengthening your mind and body’s resilience to stress,” he said, suggesting that people should practice the relaxation response every day for about 5-20 minutes.

“The more you practice, the more prepared your mind and body will be to manage stress,” he said.


Regardless of how you do it, just the act of working to manage your stress can make a difference

Hansel additionally pointed out that exactly what you choose to do isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you are doing something positive for yourself.

She also noted that what you are doing to manage stress may need to change over time since things that once worked for you may become less effective.

“Adaptable stress reduction can be movement or physical activity, going to sleep an hour earlier, or taking 5 minutes to just breathe,” she said.