How does stress affect you? We are all under tremendous stress with the economy, war, financial instability, unemployment, and the housing market. Some are dealing with health issues, marital conflicts, and work stress on top of all the others mentioned. Many are experiencing the “perfect storm” and struggling to stay afloat. Stress causes health problems, sleep disturbance, appetite changes, irritability, and depression. Unhealthy ways that people deal with stress are: excessive alcohol, drugs, aggression, avoidance, over or under eating, spending money, and smoking, just to name a few. The short-term solution can become the long-term problem. Stress can significantly impact a marriage and result in self-destructive behaviors. What are positive ways to handle stress? Depending upon the person, some strategies are better than others. Exercise is my number one stress-reducer. Talking or writing can be a stress release, as long as it’s not obsessive and the intention is to let it go. Also, changing one’s thinking (self-talk) and reframing situations so that you can recognize something positive. Focusing on what you have control over and letting go of the rest (make the list). Listening to music, meditation, prayer, and focusing on today can also be helpful. Having goals, purpose, and a routine reduce stress and increase self-esteem. Deal with conflict assertively rather than internalizing negative feelings. Lastly, surround yourself with friends and family that provide support, comfort, and love. We can successfully work through stress when we take action and make good choices. Choose wisely.