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Managing Stress with Self-Care

Stress factors and how to manage your stress.

Nashville, Ark. – “Stress acts as an accelerator: it will push you either forward or backward, but you choose which direction” is a quote found in online searches of stress quotes. Stress happens to all of us.

How do you handle stress? Negatively or with a positive attitude?

Stress refers to both the psychological awareness of pressure and the body’s response to that awareness. Sometimes we may not even realize that we are under stress. However, stress can lead to major health problems. Stress involves multiple systems from metabolism to muscles to memory. Through hormonal signaling, the perception of danger (stress) sets off an automatic response system known as the fight-or-flight response.

A stressful event triggers hormone production. When a stressful event happens, adrenaline and cortisol surge through the body speeding heartbeat and blood circulation; mobilizing fat and sugar for fast energy; focusing attention; preparing muscles for action; etc. After the stress response has been triggered, the body takes time to calm down. For example, imagine walking upon a snake. What happens? For most of us, stress happens! After we move away from the stressor (snake) it takes time for our heartbeat to return to normal and calm down.

Prolonged or repeated arousal of the stress response, a characteristic of modern life, can have harmful physical and psychological effects, including heart disease and depression. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends learning what causes or triggers your stress and what coping techniques help reduce your anxiety and improve your daily life.

According to The American Institute of Stress, the top seven factors that cause stress are:

  • Job pressure
  • Money
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Poor nutrition
  • Media overload
  • Sleep deprivation

Avoiding stress, whether negative or positive, may be impossible, but managing stress is practical and useful.


We can manage stress by:

  • Eating healthy foods. The body requires a diet that includes all the nutrients essential for good overall health. Eat a variety of foods. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Lower your fat, sugar, and salt intake.

  • Getting adequate rest. Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Regular sufficient sleep improves concentration and the ability to perform daily tasks. It is recommended to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.

  • Exercising regularly. Exercise and movement increases flexibility, balance, and strength. Plus, it burns calories and improves your mood. Get at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day. Walking is a great way to exercise.

  • Managing time. A schedule helps you feel less overwhelmed by everyday tasks and responsibilities.

  • Practice relaxation. Take breaks to calm yourself and refocus.

  • Take time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy doing and schedule time for them. It could be reading, a hobby or just sitting outside on a pretty day and meditating.

  • Reach out to your friends and family members who help you cope in a positive way. Talking to someone who will just listen is a great release.

  • Adopt a positive attitude. Life-changing events can be a challenge. A new job, a new baby, moving to another town, can all cause stress. View change as a challenge, not a burden.

  • Keep a sense of humor. Seeing the humor in any situation is helpful.

  • Keep a journal. Some people use writing as a way to release stress. Take 5 or 10 minutes to write down your thoughts and feelings. Don’t get “bogged down” in writing. Short entries can be effective.

  • Download an app that provides relaxation exercises such as deep breathing or visualization or tips for practicing mindfulness, which is a psychological process of actively paying attention to the present moment.

  • Avoid drinking excess caffeine such as soft drinks or coffee.

  • Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts. Don’t run away from the challenges you face. Accept them and work to overcome them.

  • Seek professional help when stress turns into depression and self-care methods don’t work.

The secret to stress-less living is to recognize stress. Instead of reacting to stress, resenting it, or ignoring it, develop a plan and respond positively. Taking care of oneself is a good place to start.

For more information on managing stress, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 and ask for the free publication, “Managing Stress: Turning Challenges into Blessings”.

You may also visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse in Nashville. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week - Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Cool weather vegetables are at their peak! This recipe is a great way to add dark green vegetables, which are high in Vitamin A, to your diet. Easy to fix and tastes great! Be creative and add other vegetables.

  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

  1. Wash your hands and gather ingredients and equipment.
  2. Heat oven to 425°F.
  3. Line a baking pan with foil for easy clean up. Set aside.
  4. If you are using a bunch of broccoli, cut into small florets.
  5. In a bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil.
  6. Place broccoli on a large baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove broccoli from oven, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  9. Return to oven to bake for 5 minutes. Broccoli with be lightly charred.
  10. Yields: 6 servings
  1. Nutrition information per serving (1/2 cup): Calories 70, Fat 6g, Protein 3g, Carbohydrate 3g, Fiber 1g, Sodium 265mg


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.