The question seems so simple on the surface: how can I cope with stress? Ironically, it’s difficult to find the answer when you are already drowning in an ocean of thoughts accompanied by overwhelming, never-ending tasks.
The first step is acceptance: mastering the art of coping with stress takes time, and it’s a journey full of setbacks! However, through discipline and practice, you can develop better coping mechanisms and adapt more quickly when needed. Once you acknowledge that it’s a long-term process, you’re well on your way to finding ways to cope with stress in healthy and sustainable ways suited to you.
Before developing coping strategies, it’s crucial to understand what stress actually is. Stress takes different forms for each person. Its symptoms can be mental, such as when a student is constantly worried over a deadline they don’t want to miss. It could be physical, such as when a dancer feels their body clenching before going up on stage to perform for the first time. It could be emotional – as when a bride-to-be is planning her 500+ guests wedding in between honeymoon confirmation emails.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), stress is defined as a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. It could occur in positive situations, like preparing for a wedding; or negative situations, like dealing with a natural disaster. And the symptoms accompanied by stress could be physical, emotional or both.
There are both differences and many similarities between people’s reactions to stress – one or more might be familiar to you. Below are some of the common reactions of stress and its symptoms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018):
Now that you understand what stress is, the factors that might cause it, and its various symptoms it’s time to answer the big question: how can you cope with day-to-day stress?
Pro tip: remind yourself to take it easy.
Pro tip: sometimes we would rather stay quiet to spare ourselves (and others) from re-living the stressful situations we go through, this will only slap us harder later on.
Pro tip: treat your body like it’s your own baby.
Pro tip: change up your routine every once in a while. Have a cookie if you’re on a strict diet, or try working in a different spot than usual.
Pro tip: frequent visits to a professional will make you more aware of your behavior and will teach you to know the symptoms of stress before it affects you negatively!
Dealing with stress is not easy, and learning how to cope with it will be an intense journey. But you will never master it unless you believe you can. Start by applying at least one of these tips, and stick to them no matter how difficult it gets, and I assure you that it will eventually pay off.