How to Cope With Stress: 10 Coping Strategies
Table of Contents
- Why You Can’t Get Rid of Stress
- 10 Ways to Cope with Stress
- Healthy Lifestyle Helps Coping with Stress
In the present times, stress is one of the major causes of mental and physical illnesses. Thus, coping with stress is essential to remain healthy. But how to cope with stress? Some people resort to bad ways of dealing with stress and harm themselves. So, here is a brief explanation of what stress is, how it happens, and the stress coping strategies that you can use to be stress-free and happy. ~ Ed.
Stress is no stranger to us. Everybody has met and experienced it. It lives in our homes, workplaces, and even follows us wherever we go, in some form or the other.
Thus, we should know how to cope with stress at home, school, or work – at all the times.
But do we really understand stress. Well firstly, do we know what stress is and what are its causes?
I’ve written in detail about stress in one of my earlier posts, and I mentioned its causes too.
You know that we cannot help ourselves get rid of bad stress unless we know the right ways to cope with it.
I say bad stress because there is also something called good stress. The bad stress impedes our progress and causes problems.
Whereas, the good stress, in fact, helps propel us further and pushes us to work harder.
Once you know why stress develops and what its stimulating factors are, it becomes easy to develop a strategy and employ techniques to handle it.
The efficacy of any stress coping strategy would depend on your understanding of stress.
Before I tell you the ways to cope with stress, I’d like to ask if you ever considered why you get stressed.
The answer to this question may liberate you from stress forever, no matter where you are and what you do.
Why You Can’t Get Rid of Stress
You get stressed because you choose to get stressed.
This is ridiculous, you might say.
You’re right. Who would believe that stress is a choice that we make?
And, why in the world would we choose stress? Well, it is because we do not realize that we’re doing that. It happens naturally. Choosing stress is easy, and the other way around is a hard task.
By default, most of us would take the easy route, the path of minimum efforts.
We’re are in stress at times because we don’t do something that we should do, just because either we’re lazy or we don’t have faith in ourselves.
Like when you don’t complete your task on time, and the deadline approaches near, stress envelops you.
If you did your task or carried your responsibility as it should be, then you would not be stressed.
Choosing not to get stressed is like swimming against the tide. Initially, it takes efforts because you’re used to going with the flow of your learned behavior.
So we need to do a bit of unlearning and re-learn to be stress-free.
Learning to Cope with Stress
Stressors are everywhere. Sometimes they are real and are difficult to change. But mostly, they are imaginary or self-perceived which can be eliminated with reasoning.
The responses of people, events, and situations may not be in your control, but you can be in total control of the responses you make.
Every moment offers you a choice – to choose between being stressed and not being stressed. The choice you make at that moment depends on your mental and physical state.
You have a choice to not to react to things that cause stress, and thus remain stress-free. You have a choice to either avoid the stressors or adapt yourself to it.
And you may have heard about some people who’re as cool as a cucumber even in situations surrounded by stimuli capable of producing stress.
Besides other coping factors, they also choose not to respond to these trigger events of negative stress. They make a positive choice.
If you keep your mind positive, have positive thoughts, and keep a positive attitude, it will be very difficult for stress to affect you.
Yes, it’s easy to say and difficult to practice. But it’s not impossible. It takes time and practice to develop such a frame of mind.
But since we’re all creatures of habit, we can even make being positive a habit without any fuss.
We can’t get rid of stress until we stop making a choice to get stressed.
10 Ways to Cope with Stress
Of course, some stresses are natural. Like physical stress which is produced by the body as a warning or coping mechanism. And then there is the fight-or-flight response.
But mostly it’s the mental stress that disturbs us due to problems in interpersonal relations, in work-related or other situations. And you can control that by being aware of the choices you make.
Here are a few simple ways to cope with stress by making the right choices:
Don’t react immediately
Whenever you face a disturbing situation, try not to react instantly. Give a pause to your impulse to react. Sometimes instant reactions are bad and make you lose control of yourself.
When you lose control, tense moments can make you stressed, angry and also violent at times. If you’re able to control your first reaction, things don’t get that far.
Stress and anger are closely related. Choosing not to react is one of the basic keys to stop violence and cope with stress.
Avoid the situation
Let those moments of stress pass by – don’t associate yourself with them. Act like an observer, or give yourself a break.
Observe what is happening with no judgment and no reaction. Imagine you’re not there – yet you’re fully aware of what’s happening.
It’s just that you’re not getting involved, so your body and mind don’t react. Your ego too is not hurt so you remain at peace.
It is not running away from the situation. Instead, it is about letting the initial inciting moments to pass by.
As a result, you can prepare yourself to deal with the situation by remaining fresh and unaffected by the stressor.
Focus on your breathing
During the tense moments, try to observe your breathing with all your attention.
Your breathing gets heavy and fast when you’re angry or stressed. Try to reset it in its normal mode by consciously observing it. It will also help you calm your mind.
Your neurons and hormones will send a message all over the body and mind to retract from the state of emergency and return to the state of normalcy.
You’ll feel in better control of yourself and will be able to cope with stress.
Be realistic and practical
Remember what’s happened cannot be undone. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.
At times getting too emotional aggravates the situation. If you’re facing a permanent loss and nothing can be done about it, make yourself understand the fact.
Try to assess the situation intelligently. Think of other logical options to resolve the problem or conflict. Set realistic goals, have priorities and be focused.
Change your perspective. You can only do all that if you remain cool and your mind is calm, so go back to point #1 and learn to be calm.
This way of coping with stress seems to be like a Zen approach, but you too can do it.
Change and move on
Don’t get stuck in the situation. Try to change it. But if you can’t change the situation, then change yourself, your position, or your reactions.
Look at what you’ve left with you – the resources at hand. Make the best use of them. It’s better to do something than sit idle.
If you’re depressed, you get passive. You get into a state of inertia where you find it difficult to move or change. Force yourself to move on and do something positive.
To cope with stress, you need to be proactive and take action.
Make use of your time
Don’t think much; rather act without wasting any time. Don’t procrastinate. This is one of the best stress coping strategies.
When you’re negative, you waste those precious moments that have the potential to change the course of your life.
Think logically – does unnecessary and excessive worrying or being tensed help in any way? Are you making good use of that time?
Don’t think it’s too late – it’s never too late. You can have a new beginning anytime.
Do the opposite
Stress makes you passive and negative. Try doing just the opposite. Be active and positive. If you get impatient, then cool yourself down. If worries try to make you turbulent, try to be calm.
Stress is the result of a negative mental state. Dealing with stress requires that every moment you remind yourself to be positive.
Take it easy
You’ve to learn ways to pull yourself out of the stress-hole and learn to cope with the stress.
One way is to smile and have a sense of humour. Laugh away your tensions. It sends a positive, comforting message to your body, brain and mind. It makes you feel better and in control of yourself.
The best coping mechanisms for stress is to make your life simple and take it easy – slow down the pace of your life if required.
Have confidence in yourself. Love your life and yourself. Believe and have faith in yourself.
You can do what you want if you want to. You’ve great power within yourself that can make you win over all problems of life.
No problem is big enough to surrender yourself before it. Remind yourself of the problems you faced some time ago – don’t they seem so insignificant now?
But in those moments, the problems seemed like the formidable Gibraltar rock! Yet you overcame that. You can do the same in any stressful situation.
Never lose heart
The best stress coping strategy is to get out of your depression blues and get moving. Keep trying to look for solutions and opportunities.
Once you’re calm and controlled, you can make better choices to check out the various ways and options to deal with stress.
Choose not to succumb to pressure. Be strong. Take control of the situation.
Use positive self-affirmations. Remind yourself how capable and powerful you are. This is just another problem in life like many others which have gone by, and this too shall pass.
Healthy Lifestyle Helps Coping with Stress
Your lifestyle is the way of living that is based on your routine, habit, interest, and attitude. You need to analyze if you have a healthy lifestyle.
If you aren’t making healthy lifestyle choices, then stress may affect your gut. You may start having trouble falling asleep, experience sudden gain of weight, feel too hungry, or vice-versa, and there’s even more. Improving your lifestyle, and thus reducing your stress levels may also help improve your gut health.
Like I said earlier, the choices we make depend on our mental and physical state – it depends on our lifestyle too.
Stress is a choice, and if you have an unhealthy lifestyle, there are more chances of you choosing stress by way of things you do.
A healthy lifestyle includes taking care of your body and mind. You can do this by the following ways –
- Regularly exercise or engaging in activities like walking, cycling, or even playing a sport.
- Eat healthy food and a balanced diet. Lack of proper nutrition can set adverse chemical reactions in your body.
- Relax and rest, which are equally necessary.
- Get enough sleep and take a break.
- Develop a hobby and have a creative pastime.
- Have fun and enjoy life.
- Connect with others and have friends or family members to share your feelings.
- Keep away from taking drugs – they never help. Also, avoid bad addictions like smoking and drinking alcohol – they not only cause physical harm but can increase your stress considerably.
Tension eats up your energy; it cracks your defense shield and makes you weak and venerable.
Be calm. Save your energy. Be in the moment.
When you’re in the moment, you’re fully in the present and aware. Being mindful doesn’t leave you any option to worry.
The best way to cope with stress is to train and control your mind. Keep your mind clear of disturbing thoughts. Manage your stress by managing your thoughts and emotions.
Over to you
Do you think stress is a choice? Do you think it is possible to remain stress-free? What measures do you take to cope with stress? Share your thoughts and experiences on how to cope with stress.
Disclaimer: We're not offering any medical advice here. These ideas are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Always seek a professional medical opinion from a physician of your choosing before making any medical decision. The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute to the advice given by your physician or another healthcare professional.