These days it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by just about everything. Between work, family, school, and the seemingly never ending pandemic, it’s no wonder. Melinda Ratini from WebEd says we need to set aside time for relaxation or our mental and physical health may be impacted. Stress management is the key. Here are ten ways to make it easier:

Exercise. Working out consistently is one of the superior ways to reduce stress. So how much should you work out per week? Experts say about two and a half hours of moderately rigorous exercise such as walking should be sufficient. Or you can do 75 minutes of a more intense exercise like swimming.

Relax your muscles. Too much stress can cause your muscles to become tense. What to do? Ratini suggests loosening your muscles by stretching, obtaining a massage, taking a hot bath or shower, and probably the most important getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is very unhealthy and can cause more serious health problems.

Deep breathing. When feeling really stressed, stop what you’re doing and take some deep breaths. Deep breathing exercises can really help. Ratini says to follow these five steps: 1) sit in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap and feet on the floor (or you can lie down); 2) close your eyes; 3) imagine yourself in one of your favorite relaxing spots; 4) slowly breathe in and out; and 5) do this for 8-10 minutes.

Eat well. Eating a consistently well balanced diet will help you feel better overall. It can also help feel less moody. Meals should be full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.

And don’t skip meals.

Slow down. Life is very hectic. A person needs some serious down time to take their minds off of stressful experiences. If you’re a workaholic this may be difficult at first but keep at it. Eventually you’ll look forward to this down time. Some suggestions are: 1) meditation, 2) yoga, 3) tai chi, 4) prayer, 5) music, and/or 6) spending time in nature.

Make time for hobbies. Ratini says you need to set aside time for relaxing activities. It doesn’t need to be large chunks of time either. Fifteen or twenty minutes a shot will help you relax.

Some popular hobbies are reading, knitting, art projects, playing golf, watching movies, working on puzzles, and playing cards.

Talk about your problems. Often talking to other people about stress-inducing things in your life can help immensely. Trusted family members, close friends, members of the clergy, your doctor, or your therapist are primary people you can confide in. Self-talk can also help. Just make sure your self-talk is positive.

Go easy on your self. Accept the fact that no matter how hard you try, things may not be the way you’d like. You can’t control everything. Stop thinking you can do so much. And try to laugh a lot.

Eliminate your triggers. Try to figure out your big stressors in life. Try to eliminate them or at least reduce their impact. Keep a journal and write down the things that seem to stress you out the most. Try to find ways to eliminate those triggers.

These are tremendously stressful times for all of us. But to keep strong for ourselves and for the ones we love, it’s imperative that we do things to mitigate stress. Too much stress can be unhealthy. Maintaining health takes some effort. The activities listed above can give us relief.

Alan Lossner is a retired Webster County educator and former assistant superintendent. You can contact him at lossnera@bellsouth.net