HEALTHY LIVING
05/02/2013 08:19 am ET

Common Stress Relief Tricks: What Works And What Doesn't?

If it seems like everywhere you look there's another harried, frazzled person working too hard and getting too little sleep, it's not just your inner worrywart projecting.

A whopping 91 percent of Americans said they felt stressed at least once in the last month, according to a new national survey by The Huffington Post. More than two thirds of the 1,000-plus survey respondents said they are stressed weekly or more. Among the biggest causes of stress in our lives were home organization, pressure to be more productive, bills, weight and getting too little sleep.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to find yourself trapped in a cycle of stress, for example, worrying about not getting enough sleep can then keep you from falling asleep. "Slowing down is a big part of reducing your stress," says Robin Haight, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. "Slowing down your thoughts can really interrupt the cycle." In the face of our various stressors, we need concrete steps to take to ensure we are our most productive, organized, rested selves.

And yet, very few of us are addressing our stressors head-on. Only small percentages of people said they discuss their heavy workloads with the boss or talk about stress with their doctor.

"Talking about stress with your doctor or boss requires more of a delayed gratification and takes some planning," says licensed psychologist Teri Bourdeau, Ph.D., clinical associate professor at Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Sciences. In other words, you can't march into your boss's office and spill your guts every time you're feeling a little frazzled. Many of us feel too hopeless to even try, if it's a situation we don't imagine we have a lot of control over, she says.

Too often, though, we reach out for help only after a stressor has become a crisis, says Haight. "That's a much harder situation to deal with," she says.

So how do we prevent our stress from reaching crisis level? Below, you'll find the most common ways survey respondents said they dealt with stress. Click through the slideshow to find out what really works -- and what may just add fuel to the fire.

PHOTO GALLERIES
Common Stress-Busters

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