Dealing with stressful situations and negativity in life is inevitable. While stress can affect your health, mood, and ability to focus, it doesn’t have to rule your life. How you deal with difficult situations can be a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of Americans say stress has a negative impact on their lives. There are many ways to manage these adverse situations and to alleviate stress, you just need to find the ones that work best for you. Here are some successful strategies we have found to help you survive stress and say goodbye to negative “nelly” for good.

1. Exercise
You’ve probably heard how important exercise is for your health. Well, exercise not only benefits your body but your brain too, and it’s the most commonly recommended strategy by healthcare professionals for coping with stress. The best part about exercise is that it doesn’t have to be a chore, nor do you have to spend a fortune to work out properly. Getting your body moving can be as simple as taking a walk during your lunch hour, joining a free yoga class, or finding a workout routine online that you can do at home.

2. Take Time for Yourself
It’s hard to find a moment for yourself in this 24-hour world. But sometimes it’s necessary, even if it’s just five minutes to sit down somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Taking time out to do something you enjoy can be as simple as reading a book, listening to music, calling a friend, or stepping outside for some Vitamin D. Simple meditation at the start of your day, for as little as five minutes, can do wonders for your mental clarity, and you don’t have to be an expert. Just shut your eyes and focus on your breathing. Your mood will thank you.

3. Eat Healthy
There’s science to back up good mood food. Certain foods can increase happiness, and a healthy diet can impact your overall health. Begin your morning by eating a nutritious breakfast and you’ll be ready to take on the day. Practicing healthy eating can affect how you’re able to cope with stress. Even if you start by swapping carrot sticks and hummus for potato chips and dip, proper nutrition and being mindful of what you eat is an easy step toward feeling better.

4. Get Enough Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep at night? The amount of quality sleep you receive each night can impact your ability to make decisions and affect how you feel. Receiving between seven and eight hours of sleep each night will reduce anxiety, improve your mood, help you get along better with people, and make sure you stay focused throughout the day. Sometimes stress can be so severe that it affects your sleep. In this case, try using a sleep mask if you are sensitive to light, focus on one thing before you fall asleep, or listen to some calming music or white noise.

5. Unplug
Can you remember a time before smart phones? It seems everywhere you look, people are glued to their smartphones. Taking a time out from your gadgets will allow you to focus on other things that can help you relax, like taking a hike, cooking a healthy meal, or spending time with family and friends. Next time you decide to text a friend or family member, consider calling them instead. Additionally, unplugging one hour before bedtime can help you sleep better at night.

6. Play with Pets
Animals have healing powers. Seriously. Owning a pet or spending time with animals can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, increase health, and lead to feelings of happiness. Taking your dog for a walk or to the dog park will increase physical activity. Petting your cat when you are feeling down can deliver an instant mood boost. If you don’t have a pet, you can still benefit from time with animals. Volunteering at your local animal shelter walking dogs or socializing cats can benefit not only you, but the animals too. Or, put up a hummingbird feeder and wait for the miniature birds to buzz around for a drink of nectar. The noise from their wings and chirping calls can even be soothing.

For more ways on how to manage stress, take a look at this article from Help Guide.