How do you handle stress? What do you do when it all piles up and you need to relax, kick back, escape, recharge?

Exercise? Unwind with good friends? Take a long stroll in the woods? Chill out on the couch? Dish up heaping helpings of your favorite comfort food? Call your therapist? Crack open a good book? See a movie? Window shop? Max out your credit cards? Stuff it deep inside and pretend it ain’t there? Have a good stiff drink? Meditate? Pray? Take a few puffs? Write in your journal? Scream into your pillow? Become a workaholic?

There are probably as many coping mechanisms for stress and life’s myriad problems as there are people in the world. Obviously, some coping mechanisms serve us better than others. Some elevate us, some probably are just fine in moderation, others are dysfunctional from the get-go. Smart, successful people continually look to add positive coping techniques to their repertoire, observing what works for them and building and reinforcing the best.

Become aware of the sources of stress in your life. Observe how you handle it. Avoid what you can, re-frame as much as you can. Build up your reserves: good nutrition, plenty of rest, frequent exercise, and a vibrant network of friends are all good proactive stress preventatives. Awareness is the first step to progress. Consciously articulate it to yourself when you feel stress: “Oh! I was just short with someone. I bet it is because I’ve internalized some stress, some negative energy about ‘x’. Snapping at others doesn’t help, actually makes things worse as it poisons my relationships and stresses out others.”

Pick the highest level coping mechanism you have in your inventory of coping skills, apply it, and chill your way to all the greatness within you.

Closing quotes:

“Fear is the mind killer.” — Frank Herbert, “Dune”

“One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.” — Robert Fulghum

“Feelings buried alive never die.”