Dealing with stress is tough. Sometimes, it can get overwhelming.

Whether you are overworking yourself or juggling too many responsibilities, such as work, family or school, there is a solution. These 5 tips will help you cope with too much stress in your life:

1. Get 8 hours of sleep

When we are overworked or dealing with too much stress, the first thing we compromise is our sleep. You may be staying up late to finish an important deadline or catering to your child’s needs, but the only way you will be able to take care of these responsibilities is to first invest in yourself.

“When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation, “said Raj Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and a pulmonologist at the USC Sleep Disorders Center. “Sleep is so crucial that even one night of sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment, mood and the ability to cope with stress.”

Without the proper amount of sleep, you may start to feel groggy and you may end up becoming grumpier than usual. You may even subject yourself to being more prone to catching a cold, or worse yet, something that you cannot recover from.

Jeopardizing your health can impact all areas of your life, not only your relationships with your loved ones, but also your well-being and your career. To minimize these risks, shoot for eight hours of sleep a night. “Tossing and turning, or having your sleep interrupted can still leave you tired and fatigued as well and may be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder,” said Dr. Dasgupta. Talk to your physician if you’re having trouble getting restful sleep.

2. Get moving

Sometimes the best way to overcome stress is to get moving.

Whether it be walking around your neighborhood or hopping on the treadmill at the gym, a few minutes of exercise each day will help keep you mentally focused.

3. Rely on your friends

Mismanaged stress can have toxic downsides to your health. Holding in all of your emotions, stresses and worries to yourself could be more detrimental than you think.

One of the best things you can do is to create or join a social support network. Go out with your friends or loved ones and tell them what is stressing you out, then work together on solutions. A social support network can help reduce your stress by giving you a sense of belonging within a community. This can help you increase your sense of self-worth.

4. Smile

Back in 1989, Daniel Goleman, renowned bestselling author of the book Emotional Intelligence stated in a New York Times article that “putting a sad face or smile directly produces the feelings that the expressions represent.”

An action as simple as a smile is able to help you counteract the stress you are dealing with in life. By taking a few moments to smile each day, you are able to help counteract on the stress that could be causing physical harm to your health.

5. Cut back on responsibilities

I know what you are thinking. You have always been known for carrying a huge load on your shoulders and pushing through. But during stressful times, that kind of thinking is going to cause harm. Start cutting back on responsibilities. Start to say no when you are asked to work on a project outside of your job duties or favors that will extend you beyond your reach.

Start to decrease your responsibilities until you feel more comfortable with the tasks you need to handle each day.

Once you are able to lower your workload, you will be able to spend more time thinking, reflecting, relaxing or doing the things you love.

If your stress is getting to a level you are unable to handle and nothing else is working, reach out to your primary care physician for help. If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800)USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

by Leonard Kim