A good number of people I’ve been talking to recently have mentioned feeling stressed out, overloaded, overwhelmed, and feeling like there isn’t enough time to get anything done. Sound familiar? Kids are back in school with a full load of homework, sports and other activities, work is in full-swing after a lighter summer for some, and they days are obviously getting shorter and colder in this part of the world.

When I hear everyone else talking about stress, I often check in with myself and discover I’m feeling a bit that way, too. And now is no exception. I realize that when I’m not stressed I do a lot of things to keep myself that way, but when I get busy, I forget to do many of those things that help me stay grounded and feel calm.

Stress affects our immune system response, our sleep, our memory, our moods, and our relationships. Anything we can do that brings down our stress level allows us to think more clearly and simply feel better about our lives. My best suggestions for stress reduction are to start with the small stuff.

Exercise in any form is a great way to let go of some of that overwhelm. It isn’t necessary to even get your heart rate up to get the stress reducing benefits of exercise. Take a walk (especially if you can get one outside because then you get the added benefit of stress reducing nature!), go to the gym, take a yoga class, or take a bike ride with your kids. Half an hour a day is recommended, but anything you can manage is just great.

Drink plenty of water and pay attention to your diet. When we are busy and stressed out, we tend to reach for comfort and convenience foods. Often these tend to be low in vitamins and nutrients our bodies actually need, though they do the job as far as giving us energy. A balanced diet allows us to have sustained energy and feel better throughout the day. And make sure you’re getting plenty of water along with your healthy food.

Get the right amount of rest for you. When we feel like we have no time to get things done, it’s easy to stay up late or get up early to finish one last thing. This might be good every once in a while, but getting enough rest is one of the best ways to reduce stress. When we sleep, our bodies replenish our worn out cells and help us prepare for the next day. Don’t skip out on sleep.

Ask for help. When we feel stressed, we assume that others are, too, so we don’t reach out to them and we certainly don’t ask them to take something off our plate. Learn to delegate or simply get rid of some of the things on your to-do list when you really don’t have the time for them. The fewer things on your mind, the better you will feel.

Meditate, pray, relax, or find a way to get out of the rat race for a brief period of time. Not only will this help you put things into perspective, but it’s also a great way to remember how it feels to be calm and relaxed when nothing else seems to be allowing for that. Taking a time-out is a great way to remember what is important and to restart your brain.

And, finally, do something for you. Take some time out for self-care. Go to lunch with a friend, get a pedicure, listen to your favorite tunes while doing nothing else, plan your next vacation, make a phone call to someone you’ve been meaning to connect with, work on your favorite hobby. It doesn’t matter what you do or how long you do it, just as long as you’re doing what you enjoy. Isn’t that why we work so hard in the first place?

Find some ways to add stress-reduction into your day, and give yourself time. You didn’t get this stressed out in a day, so it may take a bit of time to get back to a manageable level. Good luck!