Stressed out and wondering how to cope? While you may not be able to control all stressors in your life, you’re in charge of how you react to stress.

"While feeling stress from time to time is perfectly normal, we can learn to control the body's reaction to stress," says Simon Rego, PsyD, a stress management instructor and director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York City. "You can actually feel yourself discharging stress and tension when using a variety of techniques."

6 Practices to Dial Down Stress

Make time in your day for at least one (and hopefully more) of these activities. Some require more effort others, but none are expensive and all will help reduce stress in your life.

    1. Keep a journal. Expressing your thoughts, fears, and feelings on paper can stop stress in its tracks. Allow yourself a little time each day to write whatever you want. "Stuff happens every day, and if you take the time to sit down and write about your thoughts and feelings, it can be very calming," says Nora Baladerian, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. "It’s incredibly helpful to put things down on paper." Not interested in keeping a journal? Start scrapbooking instead and you’ll reap the same stress-busting benefits, says Rego. Scrapbooking is basically journaling in pictures and visuals.
    2. Show gratitude. Every day, Baladerian takes five minutes to say these words to herself: I appreciate that I can walk and I appreciate that I can see. She might look around at the flowers or the sky, and remind herself how lucky she is to be able to see them. "Just five minutes a day puts me in a place where I want to be," Baladerian says. Take a couple of minutes to consider all you should be grateful for.
    3. Get outside. Even if it's just for 10 minutes and it’s raining, make it a priority to get outdoors. "Smell the fresh air, walk around, get some sun," Baladerian advises. “Walk barefoot in a patch of grass if possible.” Breathing in the outside air can be invigorating, and just moving around outside can change your stressed-out perspective on life.
    4. Rub your temples for one minute. "Your temples are a pressure point," Baladerian explains. When you rub and massage them, it releases tension and reduces stress naturally.
    5. Make a to-do list. Even if it’s long, it will make you feel less stressed, says Lisa Rene Reynolds, PhD, author of Parenting through Divorce: Helping a Your Kids Thrive During and After the Split. "Just make sure there are a few things on it that you can do," adds Reynolds, who is in private practice in Connecticut and is an adjunct instructor at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. "Getting a few things done and crossed off your list reduces stress."
    6. Adopt a pet. Acquiring a pet can be very good for stress reduction. A pet delivers a dose of calm, as their response to you is free of any negatives. "They love you unconditionally," says Baladerian. Whether you have a dog, cat, or other animal, their responsiveness can be very healing.

Simon Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT, reviewed this article.