Stress is an evil demon. No one is immune to its effects and everyone will suffer different symptoms resulting from being stressed out. One absolute fact: Stress will affect your mood, your job performance, your relationships, and your health if you don’t create a proactive plan for dealing with this devil.

I can’t imagine anyone not affected by stress in the last year. Just experiencing such drastic change over which you have no power is stress enough. But that was just the starting point for so many people who lost jobs and even worse, lost family members. I know I have worried over my children and grandchildren being exposed to the dangers all around.

But there are things we can do to manage stress, and the results mean you are managing your life, getting back on track and dealing constructively with issues facing you.

Let’s explore some of the most common stress symptoms and how to avoid the triggers that welcome stress into your life. Do any of these sound like you?

1. Inability to Relax

After a long day of work, what does your evening look like? Are you still in work-mode or can you sit down and relax while watching your favorite guilty pleasure on television? Constantly working doesn’t give your brain a chance to shut down and renew itself

2. Changes in Appetite

Some people overeat when stressed while others forget to eat because they don’t feel hungry during stressful events. Look at your own eating habits. Have you noticed a weight increase or loss? Are your clothes fitting differently? Do you notice any other physical symptoms that are affecting your productivity?

3. Feelings of Overwhelm

If you have too much scheduled on your calendar or your to-do list, you may experience an overwhelming feeling which leads to paralysis because you don’t know where to start. Overwhelming feelings of helplessness lead to stress, especially if you don’t have a strong support system of friends or family who can help you.

4. Feelings of Low Self-Worth

Stress often plays mind tricks on us, making us feel low, worthless, and incapable of great things. We may have the best idea ever but if one step goes wrong, the resulting stress makes us think we’re not cut out for this work, project, business, etc.

5. Inability to Focus

When your mind is stressed about other issues, focusing on the task at hand becomes difficult if not impossible. If you find your productivity is waning – either at work or at home – stress is weighing on your mind and you need to shift it elsewhere.


Try These Action Steps to Combat Stress

1. Avoid or Reduce Caffeine and Nicotine

Caffeine is a stimulant and when too much is ingested, can lead to heart palpitations and anxiety. Nicotine offers a quick fix to relax but that relaxing feeling soon evaporates, and you’re left with the anxiety and stress you were trying to eliminate in the first place.

I try to avoid caffeine, but if I can’t, I try to avoid it after 3:00 pm. Otherwise, I don’t sleep as well. Sometimes, it is just too hard. After all, chocolate is good for you, isn’t it? (Actually, dark chocolate in small amounts has been shown to have health benefits.)

2. Move Your Body Every Day

Daily movement helps keep your muscles toned, your ligaments flexible, your joints pain-free, and your mind more alert. Go for a walk, take an exercise class at the gym, or use some YouTube fitness videos to inspire you to move.

Use a simple timer or phone app to remind you to move at regular intervals. You don’t have to get in a 30-minute exercise routine. Just 5 minutes or stretching or 10 minutes of walking outside repeated throughout the day can work wonders.

3. Keep a Stress Diary

Similar to a daily journal, a stress diary can help you identify what triggers your stress. Whether it’s a work situation, toxic person in your daily life, or a situation at home, you’ll soon see a pattern if you jot down periodically throughout the day how you’re feeling emotionally and physically.

4. Take Control of Problems that Trigger Stress

Once you notice a trend of what stresses you out, do your best to take control of that trigger. Simple changes in routine and developing tiny habits to combat stress can make a huge difference. It doesn’t have to be a big change to impact your life.

5. Learn to Say No

It doesn’t make you a bad person to set some limits on how much time you spend doing what others want you to do. Set some boundaries for scheduling your time in ways that work for you.

Stress is present in everyone’s life but that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to it. Take care of yourself by recognizing what triggers the stress in your life and by taking proactive measure to avoid stressful situations at all costs. Start living your best life stress-free!

If you are interested in more ways to combat stress, my friend Shirley Noah is an expert in dealing with stress. She wrote “Say No To Stress : A Practical Approach to Stress Management: The Essential Guide to Stop the Devastating Effects of Stress on Your Body”. You can get the Kindle version free on Amazon if you have Kindle Unlimited. But even if you don’t, the Kindle version is only $2.99! A small price to pay for how to “Say No to Stress”!

Another resource from Shirley is her Worry Journal Toolkit. Study proves these simple, natural remedies for anxiety will help you to dig deep and figure out how to let go of your worries and be mindful of your emotions. You can pick it HERE for only $12.99!

Shirley also writes about stress shares resources for dealing with stress on her website – You’ll find a lot of great tips there!

Take this FREE Self-Assessment: Is Stress Overtaking Your Life? Save the PDF and duplicate it to keep the original. You can complete it online and save it with a date. After implementing strategies to tackle your stress, open a new PDF and retake the assessment to see how far you've come!

I’m educator and blogger Vicki Peel, Ed.D. I support family members trying to live good-enough, intentional, and simpler lives by sharing life hacks and simple systems in the areas of Home Style, Lifestyle, and Food. Start by claiming your FREE report, Self-Care Hacks at

My shop in continues to grow with products that support a simpler lifestyle and save you time, energy, and/or money. You can download the FREE “My One Thing Habit Tracker” on this site to help you develop and sustain tiny habits that will change your life for the better. Click HERE.