Planning is the Best Way to Fight Stress and Increase Happiness, Study Finds

People generally don’t manage stress well, but a new study suggests that you can plan your way out of your anxiety and back to happiness, TIME reported May 31.

That means “fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen,” says psychologist Robert Epstein, Ph.D. “That means planning your day, your year and your life so that stress is minimized.”

About 25 percent of happiness is dependent on stress management, according to Epstein, but most people surveyed get failing grades on their ability to manage stress. Some simple techniques recommended by Epstein include deep breathing, meditating, and muscle relaxation.

“Stress kills,” says Epstein. “Stress is not only daunting, it’s also an important factor responsible for the acceleration of the biological clock.”

Reader Question: How do you manage your stress?