Coping with Stress: How to Cope Better With Life's Challenges

Coping with stress is about recognizing the symptoms of stress and taking charge! Stress is a fact of life but here we give you ways to not only live with stress but to thrive in the face of it.

Unrelenting stress can sometimes feel like a storm is buffeting you from all sides.

You have a to do list as long as your arm, the bills need to be paid, you feel pressured by a lack of time, and your family responsibilities are demanding.

You may feel that there is little that you can do in the face of stress.

But you don't need to be passive to the effects of stress!

These skills for coping with stress give you the tools to take charge. By coping better with stress you build resilience and confidence to deal with stress and rise to your highest human potential.

Here we provide a number of different ways to manage stress. These include:

  • recognizing your stress causes
  • how you currently cope with stress
  • changing the situation that causes stress
  • altering your reaction in the face of stress
  • making time for relaxation and fun.

We recommend that you try all the different skills for coping with stress.

Each coping technique has it's own strength and you may find different techniques for dealing with stress more suitable to your lifestyle needs.

Recognize your stress causes of stress

Do you know your warning signs of stress?

What are your causes of stress?

There are many causes of stress and often one of the first stress management goals is to get objective data on what causes you stress.

While this may sound simple, sometimes chronic stress can be deceptive.

You may not be aware of how much stress - relationship stress, financial stress or work stress - that you are living with.

You may feel that you can adapt to higher and higher levels of stress, but the fact is that you may be living with an unhealthy amount of stress.

One way that you can get objective data on how you react to the different causes of stress is to carry around a notebook and record those things that stressed you out and how you felt - on a rating of 1-10.

Download a stress diary today and start monitoring your stress levels.

You may start to notice after a few days that there are patterns that begin to emerge in your stress diary - perhaps your ratings of stress are higher when stuck in traffic or when you feel pressured by a work deadline, or when you deal with your boss or an aggravating person.

Once you have knowledge of these causes of stress and how you react to them then you can implement some of the best stress reducers for coping with stress.

You have the power to live with less stress

Do you blame the stress that you are feeling on your personality (I just feel anxious today), or on the situation (work is always pretty hectic), or on something that you just have to live with?

One of the first goals for coping with stress is to accept that you have the power to live with less stress.

It is your choice about how you react to stress. The first step is to take responsibility for your own thoughts, emotions, and behavior, in response to stress.

How do you currently cope with stress?

Whenever we encounter stress we usually use some coping strategy to help deal with stress.

Tell us how you cope with stress?

Positive or healthy skills for coping with stress are useful but sometimes we may use negative or unhealthy coping strategies.

Negative strategies for coping with stress don't satisfactorily deal with stress and may even create a cycle of increasing stress for you.

Some healthy and not so healthy ways for coping with stress include:

Some unhealthy ways to relieve stress are:

  • Self destructive behaviours e.g. drinking too much or smoking
  • Overeating or not eating enough
  • Angry outbursts
  • Withdrawing from family, friends or activities you once enjoyed

  • Procrastinating in front of the TV or Internet
  • Constant worrying and not moving forward
  • Sleeping too much
  • Doing too much - so that you can avoid the causes of stress

Typically these unhealthy or negative coping strategies don't deal with stress adequately and in some cases may increase stress.

There are a number of positive ways to manage stress. These tend to fall into one of two strategies:

  1. change the situation that is causing you stress
  2. change your reaction to the situation that is causing you stress

Change the situation that is causing stress

Do particular situations cause you stress? After filling out the stress diary that you downloaded earlier you probably have a clearer idea of your main stressors and how you react to them.

Here are some typical ways for coping with stress by altering the situation.

Learn to say no

If you are over-scheduled and stressed to the eyeballs then learning to say "No" is beneficial. When saying "No" it is important to be firm and not apologetic.

It can be hard to say "No" and if you are uncomfortable then try saying "I will think about it and let you know." This gives you time to review your goals and schedule and takes the pressure off you to commit immediately.

If you want to actually do the task then review your goals and possibly say "I can't commit to this much, but I am prepared to ...."

Find the sweet spot between passive and aggressive by being assertive and respectfully standing up for your rights.

Pare down your to do list

Having a to-do list as long as your arm and feeling time pressured is a major cause of stress.

With many of us connected 24/7 and the demands for shorter response times, it is no wonder this is a major cause of stress.

If you feel that you are on a treadmill of putting out fires and not really getting the important things done then learning time management skills could be beneficial for you.

Develop your communication skills

Conflicts, whether they are in personal relationships or relationships at work, are inevitable and can cause much stress.

Conflict is generally not the problem as each of us has our own ideas and viewpoints that make us who we are. The problem is how the conflict is handled.

Good communication skills can greatly reduce stress and anger and potentially leading to win-win outcomes for all involved.

Change your reaction to the situation causing stress

Sometimes it is not possible to alter the situation that is causing stress. If this is the case then altering yourself in response to stress can be good way to deal with stress.

Here are some typical ways for coping with stress by altering yourself.

Cultivate a healthy diet of positive thoughts

Each time that a negative thought or image about yourself or a situation occurs your body acts as though threatened.

Similarly feelings of happiness and well-being are more likely to occur when you have more positive thoughts.

Based on the contemporary definition of stress, how you perceive the cause of stress determines whether the stress response is activated.

Similarly, research suggests that when you adopt a positive mental attitude you take a more problem-solving approach to deal with stress.

Put simply, your thoughts influence your stress levels and your 'coping with stress' skills.

Here are some positive thinking tips to reduce the effect of stress on your mind and body.

Be your own best friend

What you say to yourself can greatly influence the amount of stress that you feel.

If you often say to yourself “I should” or “I always” or “I must” then this may be increasing your stress levels.

Cognitive therapy for stress can help you to gain knowledge on how your inner dialogue is influencing your stress levels.

Make time for relaxation and fun

Because of the intimate connection between mind and body, many coping skills can also benefit from relaxation.

Whether it is holiday stress tips when on break, or taking time in your busy day to rest, make time to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries to help you to cope with stress.

There are a number of strategies that I and my clients use to bring relaxation into their life.

Make relaxation part of your daily schedule

Make relaxation a daily habit for you.

Often people tell me that they are "too busy to take time out".

Often by relaxing, even if it is for five minutes you give your body and mind the rejuvenation it needs, not to mention adopting a habit that can help you to cope with stress and improve your overall effectiveness.

Some effective relaxation techniques are:

On the same note it is also important to get a good night's sleep. If you body is not relaxed and refreshed then you can put yourself on a vicious cycle of increasing stress.

Examining your bedtime routines, sleep hygiene, and using natural sleep remedies are helpful to get a good night's sleep.

Connect with positive others

By connecting with people who have a positive outlook you can enhance your own life.

A positive social support system can be a very good buffer that protects you from the effects of stress.

Remember your highlights

This is a great technique because it reminds me of the good things in the day.

Often I can get caught up in the grind of daily living and focus on the things that have to be done.

By putting aside some time each evening try writing down or talking to someone who is close to you about your 3 highlights for today.

What this does is focus your mind on the more positive things that have occurred in the day.

Make time for fun things

Take time out and do things that you enjoy.

Take up a hobby, learn a language or play a sport. The important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. Bring more laughter and joy into your life through laughing therapy or laughing yoga.

Alternatively some people like to use stress relief toys that take your mind off the stressor.

Develop healthy habit for dealing with stress

Adopting healthy habits can also boost your skills for coping with stress. Here are a number of healthy habits that you can use for stress relief.

Whether it is eating balanced diet, ensuring you get enough vitamins for stress, or exercising regularly. There are a number of healthy ways for dealing with stress and increasing your resilience towards stress.

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