5 ways to manage stress for your mental and emotional health

Alexander M. Cook, MD a family medicine doctor with Ascension Wisconsin in Grafton, WI share five ways to avoid stress.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association,  27% of Americans say most days they’re so stressed they cannot function. Although some stress can be productive, it can quickly become unhealthy, especially if it isn’t properly managed. It can be beneficial to pause, reflect, and look for ways to address mental and emotional stress.

Primary care doctors care for the whole person, including emotional and mental health, and can make referrals if needed. Alexander M. Cook, MD, family medicine doctor with Ascension Wisconsin Medical Group shares five reminders for how to avoid stress and its negative effects:


  1. Recognize your feelings 
    It may initially seem helpful to try to ignore that you’re feeling stressed, but a good first step to addressing any problem is to simply acknowledge that something needs your attention.
  2. Maintain your physical health 
    Your body and mind work better with nourishing food, regular exercise and consistent sleep. Avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope; remember to rest and relax when you feel tired or stressed out.
  3. Connect with others 
    Reach out to friends and family on a regular basis. Talk with them about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through.
  4. Take a break 
    Find ways  to reduce stressors, if you are able to do it. If watching or reading the news is causing you too much stress, turn off the TV and disable breaking news notifications on your phone. Instead watch a funny movie, read a book or go for a walk outside. 
  5. Talk to a doctor who listens 
    It’s also important to recognize when you may need more help. Therapy can be very helpful and is essential if the problems continue or worsen. Regularly seeing a mental health specialist and receiving necessary care can be beneficial to emotional health as well as overall health and well-being. Ask about options for care– both in-person and virtual visits. Start a conversation with a doctor who listens at Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin. Chat online to speak with a care navigator at Ascension.org.

No matter what problems you're dealing with, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org/chat.

If you or a loved one are experiencing an immediate life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or call 911.