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In which we travel back in time aboard our new Chrono-Copter helicopter (yes, really) to explore some best practices and coping mechanisms for dealing with being stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious! Also, MIKE AND EMMA SHARE AWESOME NEWS WITH YOUUUUU, INCLUDING THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE COVER MIKE'S NEW NOVEL!!!

More information on our books:
FIRST & THEN on Amazon:
FIRST & THEN info from Macmillan:
Emma's video about FIRST & THEN's cover:
Emma's official homes on the interwebz:; ;

Video where Mike reads an early version of MR. FAHRENHEIT's Prologue:
Mike's official places on the interwebz (to be updated as more news becomes public): ;;; ; Instagram: Tmichaelmartin; Snapchat: TmikeMartin

Kelly McGonigal's TED Talk:
THE HAPPINESS TRAP (good intro to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy):

Support How to Adult on Patreon at

HOW TO ADULT Posters Now Available from DFTBA Records!

Merchandise from Mike (including "Reading Changes Us" and "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost" posters!):

"How to Adult" is a "life skills" edutainment channel brought to you by Executive Producers Hank Green and John Green. Subscribe for new videos every week!


Created by:
Emma Mills & T. Michael (Mike) Martin
Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including
Indiebound ( ) and Amazon: (

Hosted and Edited by:
T. Michael Martin

Written by:
T. Michael Martin
& Steve Johnson

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green


Stress can be pretty overwhelming, but it always helps to know thy enemy. I like to quote the Bible. So what we're gonna do is, we're gonna actually go back in time in my brand new time-traveling protocopter; I'll fix this later, 'cause the goggles are broke. But, uh, yeah, let's go.  Let's go back in time to when stress evolved, eh?

Here we are in the early days of our species, like before you could call the internet on the phone, even. Stress then was one of our best buddies. Part of our fight-or-flight response, it helped us survive. 

Modern life has removed a lot of those mortal threats that made our stress levels so helpful. The "watch out for mastodon" part of our brain needed something to do. These days they occupy themselves by kind of freaking out about our daily tasks and responsibilities.

 Step 1: Identify Stress

So how do we fight stress? Step one: identify the source of your stress. Maybe it's work load, or social isolation, or relatives. Even positive life events like marriage, or a new puppy, or a new house. Those can be stressful too.

If you can't quite figure out the source, we would recommend maybe keeping a stress journal. Take note of the context of your stress, like, what you're doing, what time it was, who you were with, did you eat something weird? Hopefully you'll start to notice some common patterns that will help you identify the source.

I do want to take care to note, though, that your stressors might not actually be external. Like they could come from an anxiety disorder or from how you're mentally framing neutrally external events. Those can be helped by some of the techniques we'll discuss to a certain extent, but we can't really overstate the amount of help you can get from a licensed therapist.

 Step 2: Attack the attack

Step 2: Attack the attack. After you identify the problem, identify what you can control about it. This is recommended by a lot of psychologists who practice the popular cognitive behavioral therapy model. So we'll start with behavioral changes you can make: eating healthier, getting exercise, getting enough sleep, a mindfulness practice. Or say you're overwhelmed by your work load, you can take steps to change how much is expected of you.

Something I've noticed is that people tend to underestimate how much time and energy a task is going to take. So something I recommend that you do, because I recommend that I do it too: only take on about 75% of what you think you can do because that's probably more realistic.

It can be extremely hard to say no to opportunities and favors because we're afraid of missing out, that's understandable. But if we over-commit, burnout is inevitable, which is going to negate all the positives you thought you were gonna receive, so just respect your own self and limitations, like that's a very strong thing to do.

Speaking of respecting yourself, let's say that there is another person who is causing your stress. Behaviorally, there are a couple things you can do. 1. Tactfully confront them and work the issues out. 2. Minimize the amount of time you spend with them. But, realistically guys, I admit that you can't always patch things over and you can't always avoid that person, so in that case: what the heck?

Well, this is where the cognitive part of cognitive behavioral therapy comes in. Basically you mentally re-frame the stressor by changing what it means to you. For most people, there are three common beliefs that go through your mind when you're depressed. 1. It's personal. It's your fault. 2. It's permanent. It will never go away. 3. It's pervasive. Everything is bad. Similar thought processes can also cause stress. Actually writing down your thoughts and then writing down logical rebuttals of them, like that can be weirdly helpful too. 

 Step 3: Maybe don't actually attack the attack...?

Ok, so you've attacked the attack. You're ready for step three: Maybe don't actually attack the attack...? Doing the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to reduce stress can sometimes actually increase stress. If you're one of the people that that happens to sometimes, I would personally recommend acceptance and commitment therapy.

So ACT basically espouses a radical acceptance of reality. Rather than trying to better control your thought and feelings, it teaches you to mindfully "just notice" them, accept that they exist, and commit to living by your values regardless. For many people, the result of this is an increased sense of well-being and purpose. Accepting and committing does not mean that you stop taking action, it means that you accept that reality is hard, sometimes it hurts, but life and effort are rich and worth the candle.

The truth is that stress is a part of life, and maybe that's kind of a good thing. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal has written and TED talked about how to take advantage of some of the surprising benefits of stress. But still, reducing the negative effects of stress is a very good thing. Huge amounts of stress will probably not vanish overnight, but with focus and experimentation, it's gonna improve.

And that is it from us today. If you have any tips about stress reduction, please let us know in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! In the meantime- (beep)


Hey guys, I don't mean to stress you out with a lack of a catchphrase joke but Emma and I have some cool things we wanted to share with you. Now these projects were both a long time in the making and of course when you're going through a long project, it's almost always stressful, so we wanted to share a couple things that have been possible because we've dealt with that stress.

As some of you guys know Emma and I are also young adult novelists, and Emma's debut novel "First and Then" which is amazing is coming out in October and this is the cover. It is so beautiful. And I'm also really excited to announce that my second book is coming out in April 2016 and I'm about to show you the cover, and this is the first time anybody has seen it...

Now some of you guys might be wondering, "Mike, what is that on the cover? It looks like an eye, but also... maybe the bottom of a flying saucer? Did you write a young adult thriller about aliens coming to Earth?" Yes.

As you guys know, ET is my best bud. Mr. Fahrenheit is like, more action-packed and a little bit scarier than ET. It's like... adventure... wonder... high school... ray guns.

So there will be some links below with more information.

Ok guys, anything you want to say before we go bud?

ET doll: ET loves you.