COLUMBIA, Mo.– Virtually everyone suffers from stress.

What’s yours? Maybe it’s too much to do in too little time. Traffic jams. Relationship problems. Family demands. Living paycheck to paycheck. Whatever the sources of stress in your life, University of Missouri Extension regional specialists deliver a nationally recognized stress-relief program to help meet your challenges so you can live a healthier life.

Taking Care of You: Body, Mind & Spirit ( is an eight-session workshop co-designed by Molly Vetter-Smith, assistant extension professor and state health education specialist with MU’s School of Medicine.

“When people’s lives get really busy and really stressed, or something traumatic happens, it can affect both physical and mental health,” says Vetter-Smith. “This program is there to help all aspects of your health and to help get you through whatever challenge you have going on in your life at that time.”

Offered in weekly, one-hour sessions, the course covers the mind-body wellness connection, providing practical strategies to help people manage stress. When people are able to manage stress in healthy ways, they are better able to take care of themselves and maintain their overall health.

“When life gets out of balance, we become very stressed and we don’t always make the healthiest of choices,” says program co-designer and instructor Vera Massey, MU Extension regional nutrition and health education specialist. “This program helps people better manage the stress and challenges in their lives.”

Follow-up research indicates that program participants significantly lowered their stress levels and made lifestyle improvements immediately following the sessions and even three months later, says Massey. Evaluations show they regularly use stress-management skills taught in the program, make healthier food choices and live more physically active lives.

“One of things that sticks out to me—that I remember word-for-word from the Taking Care of You class—is, ‘Don’t spend an extraordinary amount of time on ordinary things,’” recalls one of the program’s students, Beth McClure, a public relations professional from the St. Louis area. She also appreciated the limited class size.

“I approached the class because I was looking for help in finding balance in my life and just really improving as a person in both my career and in my personal life. This class seems to bring it all together for people.”

The stress-relief program, currently offered statewide, recently won a national award for its unique approach to stress management and its positive health impact. Vetter-Smith, the program leader, is exploring avenues for expanding the program regionally and nationally. For more information or to register for Taking Care of You classes, go to

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