Stress is a feeling of tension or strain that can be caused by many different things. Stress is a normal part of life, and sometimes it can be good for you. For example, the stress of having a deadline at work can encourage you to work hard and succeed. However, too much stress can make you feel bad and increase your chance of getting sick. The amount of stress that is "too much" is different for each person. Learning to control and cope with stress will help you live a happier and healthier life.



  • Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Learn why you take each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers.

  • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Remember that some medicines may take several weeks before they start helping. Do not quit taking your everyday medicines until you discuss it with your caregiver.

When is my next doctor's appointment?

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

How can I deal with the stress in my life?

  • The following are some ways for you to decrease your stress.

    • Learn what causes you stress. Take a close look at what makes you feel stressed. Stay away from stressful things whenever possible. Do not worry about things you cannot control, such as traffic or the weather.

    • Plan quiet time. Take at least 30 minutes a day to be by yourself. Use this time to do something you enjoy. For example, you can wake up before other household members and read the paper. In the evening, you can relax in a warm bath. Even sitting quietly and daydreaming can give you a much-needed break.

    • Share your workload. Ask your family or other household members to help with chores. Be realistic about how much you can get done by yourself.

    • Learn to put your needs first sometimes. It is OK to say "no" when people demand your time or attention. Ask yourself, "Do I need to pay attention to this person right now? Can it wait for a time that is better for me?"

    • Manage tasks. Set realistic goals for yourself. You may find it helps to make a list of things you need to get done. Then do the most important things first. Slow down and focus on one task at a time. Having a clean home or work area may help you feel less stress as you do your work.

  • Not all stress can be avoided. The best way to deal with stress that you cannot avoid is to change how you react to it. The following are some things you can do to cope with stress.

    • Live a healthy lifestyle.

      • Change your diet. Eat healthy foods from all of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat and fish. Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. You may feel better and sleep better if you avoid foods and drinks that have caffeine. Examples of things that have caffeine include coffee, some teas, colas, and chocolate. Ask your caregiver for more information about planning a healthy diet.

      • Take time to exercise. Begin a regular exercise program to decrease tension and feelings of stress. Something as simple as walking 20 minutes a day, three to four days a week can help. Exercising also makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you.

      • Do not drink alcohol or overuse over-the-counter or prescription medicines. Drinking alcohol can cause sleep problems, depressed feelings, and increases stress. Taking too much medicine, even if it is over-the-counter medicine, can cause serious health problems.

    • Have a positive attitude. Try to stop yourself when you think negative, angry, or discouraging thoughts. If you have problems controlling negative thoughts, tell your caregiver. A counselor can teach you ways to think more positively.

    • Learn relaxation techniques. Learn new ways to relax, such as meditation (med-i-TAY-shun), listening to music, or biofeedback. Ask your caregiver for more information about any of these.

    • Pay attention to your breathing. When you are tense, you may take shallow breaths or hold your breath without knowing it. It may help to do deep breathing during times of increased stress. To do this, sit up straight and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Then, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Take twice as long to breathe out as you do when you breathe in. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer or more focused.

    • Relax your muscles. Stress often causes muscle tightness, especially in the shoulders and the neck. Simple exercises can help relieve this tension. Tighten and relax the muscles of one body area at a time. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears. Try to tighten your muscles as much as possible while you do this. Then, completely relax your shoulders. Do this a few times, then move on to another area of the body. Also, stand up and stretch at least once an hour as you do your daily work. Ask your caregiver for more information about muscle relaxation exercises.

    • Talk it out. No one can handle stress by themselves all of the time. Talk to someone about things that upset you. This person can be a trusted friend, a family member, or a caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are having trouble coping with stress. Join a support group if you have a major health problem that is causing you stress.

    • Above all, listen to your body. If you are feeling the effects of stress, talk to your caregiver. This is especially important if you have other health problems.

For support and more information:

For more information about coping with stress, contact the following organizations:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information & Communication Branch
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:
  • American Psychiatric Association
    1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
    Arlington , VA 22209
    Phone: 1- 703 - 907-7300
    Phone: 1- 888 - 357-7924
    Web Address:


  • You have other health problems that might be getting worse because of your stress.

  • Your stress symptoms are causing problems at work or with your relationships.

  • You have feelings of depression or overwhelming sadness.

  • You have problems controlling your anger.

  • You have started using, or are increasing your use of alcohol or illegal (street) drugs. Also, if you have started to use too many prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or use them too often.

  • You feel you are overwhelmed and can no longer handle things by yourself.


You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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