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Herzing University

Christine Paul Cardenas

Skills for Succeeding in Stress Management

When used positively, stress can lead to growth, action and change.

Stress is a normal human reaction and plays a part in everyone's life. According to Mayo Clinic, stress is an automatic physical, mental and emotional response to a challenging event. The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. When you experience changes or challenges, your body produces physical and mental responses.

When used positively, stress can lead to growth, action and change. But negative, long-term stress can lessen your quality of life. We must learn how to manage our stress levels. Stress management can include skills that will let you attain balance such as prioritization, healthy coping strategies, relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, therapy, exercise, traveling and time management.

Here are some tips from Herzing nursing graduate Christine Paul Cardenas to help you with your stress management.

Pet Therapy

If you like animals, you may benefit from pet therapy, which can include animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems.

Did you know that petting your pet decreases blood pressure? Having a pet reduces stress, lessens your feelings of isolation, and increases your productivity time. If you have a dog, a simple walk in the park with your furry friend will help you decrease your stress level. So, it’s safe to say that it may be worth it to have a furry friend.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

Practicing positive self-talk increases your self-confidence and decreases your stress level. We all engage in self-talk in some way. Self-talk can be positive such as telling yourself, “I can do this” or negative, saying, “I’ll never get better” or “I’m so stupid”. According to the American Heart Association, negative self-talk increases stress whereas positive self-talk can help you calm down and manage stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones.


Whether you identify as an introvert or extrovert, we all need healthy socialization. According to Mayo Clinic, humans are social beings and finding a sense of community — whether at work, with a religious or community organization or through shared activities— is important to your well-being. You need to have connections with people to feel supported. Enjoying a shared activity allows you to find support and foster relationships that can be supportive in difficult times.

As a nurse, my job is stressful. I needed to learn how to manage my stress level. I set aside time to unwind and enjoy my life. I go out and see my friends on my days off and go to church on Sundays with my family. My friends and I dine, talk, shop, visit downtown Chicago, watch movies, or sing karaoke. It helps me attain a work-life balance and stay connected with my family and friends.


Assertiveness is a significant skill for surviving life’s challenges, especially in managing stress. It is a skill learned in nursing school and through the practice of effective communication. Being assertive means you’re able to remain calm as you address your concerns and express yourself, opinions, thoughts, and your feelings. Being assertive means you’re honest, direct, confident, expressive, and empathetic all at the same time. It is better to be assertive than aggressive.

Through practice and patience, you can learn and master the art of asserting your thoughts, feelings, and opinions without losing your cool and becoming aggressive, angry, confrontational, or defensive.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques include the practices of meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing techniques, prayer, going on vacations, art therapy, aromatherapy, and getting full-body massages.

According to verywellmind, aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief—it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment. Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body. Whether you enjoy candles, diffusers, or body products, consider incorporating some aromatherapy into your day.”

According to Mayo Clinic, deep breathing is a great way to reduce the activation of your sympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s response to a perceived threat. Deep breaths are taken in for a count of five seconds, hold for two seconds and released to a count of five seconds, which can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce the overall stress and anxiety you may be experiencing.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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