If you have stress - and who doesn't - there are some quick fixes that you can do to reduce the effects of stress in your life. You - and those around you - will both benefit.

Be mindful that none of the stress buffers is intended as a long-range answer to the body stress in your life, but every one of them offers a step you can take now - today, tomorrow, this week - toward reducing distress. Find two or three that fit your situation and try them out.

* Decompress. Keep the distress in one area of your life from spilling over into, and contaminating, other areas. Example: you had a rotten day at the office and, in your anger, you drive like a maniac on the way home. Decompress between your activities. Consciously review your feelings of anxiety or stress. Then decide to leave the situation and abandon the feelings of the moment. Pray, drink water, take a quick nap, meditate, or listen to some soothing music. Then move on.

* Volunteer. Studies show that those who do good, feel good. Not only will you be doing something helpful for someone else but you will find you have additional energy.

* Eat better. Pay attention to your nutrition. Study your eating habits and decide what you need to change to create the best balance.

* Exercise. Decide to do something for your body. Walking is the easiest activity to begin - and stick with.

* Stop smoking. Give it up, completely. Do anything: read, visit professionals, talk to people - anything that will move you to break your drug addiction.

* Watch your drinking. You may feel you should change your alcohol habits. Start slowly. Find other sources of relaxation: exercise, sports, friends who will be supportive, reading, or listening to music.

* Cut back on drugs. Watch out for recreational drugs that have made their way into your life - tranquilizers, caffeine, nicotine, or any medicine to which you can develop a habit. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks all contain habit-forming caffeine. Taper off gradually.

* Find a quiet place. If you don't have a quiet place in your home for a personal and private retreat - create one. Children can benefit from this practice just as much as adults.

* Improve your sex life. Spend time with your spouse in intimacy. If you need to alter your schedule or attitude to make this happen - do it.

* Discover holistic health. Consider your whole body: mind, body, and spirit. Realize that when one area is unhealthy, the whole body suffers.

* Care for aching feet. If your feet are in shape your whole disposition will improve. It is estimated that over a lifetime you walk the equivalent of four times around the world. This is hard to do in the wrong pair of shoes. Women: when you slip on a pair of high heels you put 76% more weight on the balls of your feet.

* Learn while you burn. Combine learning tapes or books on tape with your exercise routine.

* Get sleep. Make your bedroom soothing and conducive to sleep. Shut out extraneous noises. Play soft music to get yourself to sleep. Don't eat too close to bedtime, or watch violent TV shows.

From The Stress Owner's Manual by Ed Boenisch, Ph.D. and C. Michele Haney, Ph.D.,