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How to Handle Stress at All Ages

One-Third of Americans Live With Extreme Stress

Photo of colored pencil writing the word stress on white paper and breaking at the end.

Stress is no respecter of persons. One-third of Americans are living with extreme stress. Yet, many do not know how to handle their stress, resulting in more extreme stress. Thankfully, there are ways to combat this outside of life’s stressful circumstances. April is Stress Awareness Month and it’s a great time to sharpen up coping skills! You’re sure to fit into one of these categories and have a loved one who also will.

What is Stress?

According to the medical definition, stress is a “physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stress can initiate the “fight or flight” response, a complex reaction of neurologic and endocrinologic systems.”


Even though we may think that kids have it “easy,” they can still experience stress from their social environments and school. Kids may feel stress without really knowing what it is or how to describe it.

Parents should teach their kids how to cope with these feelings by having a conversation with them. Ask them how they are feeling and really listen. It’s the role of the parent to help them identify their feelings. Having these simple conversations and giving them the room to speak is often all they need.


While you may just see them buried in their phones, teens are experiencing high levels of stress. They have a lot of school stress to manage while they contemplate major future decisions such as college and their future careers. Stress can negatively impact everyone’s health if not addressed.

One way to handle this is by making sure they are getting a proper amount of sleep each night. Teens need around 8 hours of sleep to be emotionally and physically competent. It may seem like too simple a fix, but having proper rest allows the body to regenerate and strengthens their ability to handle daily problems.


Adults have a lot on their plates as they manage their kids, prepare for retirement and take care of aging parents. It can be especially difficult to have the tough conversations necessary as they age as well as the emotional toll that it takes to see their loved ones transition to new stages in life. If they are experiencing caregiver stress, some things they can do to help with this is making sure they still make time for themselves. Self-care cannot be neglected and is essential to being a quality caregiver. Some basic ways they can manage stress are:

  • Meditation: This could take the form of physical activity like yoga, but it can also be simple rhythmic breathing in a quiet space for at least five minutes a day.
  • Organization: Sometimes, stress is caused by dysfunction, so it would be helpful to try to get most everything within their life organized. If it will make life more simple, they should do it. Upon organizing, they may find that there are some stress-inducing activities that they need to start saying “no” to in order to clean up the mess of stress.
  • Health: Physical exercise and eating healthy, nutritious foods will produce endorphins and give the energy needed to take on each day.

Older Adults

Older adults have major life changes that can be very stress-inducing. They have physical, financial and emotional changes to battle all at once. It can be even more difficult to manage as they age. Some ways that have been proven to help are as follows.

  • Inspiration: What inspires people differs from person to person. So, they should find inspirational quotes or images to surround themselves with. It can be as simple as a quote written on an index card or a beautiful scenic picture that brings joy.
  • Puzzles: Not only are puzzles fun, but they require concentration that overpowers the need to stress about life’s troubles. This may be something like a Sudoku or a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Develop an Attitude of Gratitude: This is difficult for anyone to do in times of high stress, but it’s helpful. Taking deep breaths and listing aloud or writing the things that they are grateful for is a tremendous way to knock stress to its knees.

When we focus on the good, it’s easier to see the challenging parts of our lives more positively. To take this further, begin and end each day with naming five things to be grateful for. For example, “I am grateful for my soft pillow. I am grateful for a warm dinner, etc.”

We know life can be stressful, especially as you are aging. Don’t hesitate to call for assistance in your transition, and if you’re looking to live a stress-free life, try out some of these simple solutions today!