Coping Strategies for Stress
Stress is something that most of us have known at some point of time in our lives. I have to. And the thing about stress is that it’s recurrent as we go through situations. And there are situations wherein one may not be able to predict if you are going to be in stress. So, there is no way you could avoid it.
You have a family to take care of, and there are taxes, and mortgages, a job that leaves you unfulfilled and a boss who doesn’t relent ever. So, what do you do? You create and adopt coping strategies for stress.
Remember that coping strategies do not ensure that you never get stressed. What they do is prepare you for stress so that you can manage it better. They can enable you to tolerate stressful situations with relative ease apart from helping you function fairly well even when under stress.
And then comes the part where you recover. Stress can have a lasting effect on your health. If you have strategies to cope with stress you know the drill to quick recovery.
Start with What Doesn’t Work
For resolving anything in life, different people make different choices. It’s the same with coping strategies for stress. An awful lot of people resort to strategies like sticking to their screen—watching TV shows, movies, scrolling through your phone for a long time, etc. But, well, as you would have noticed and as researchers explain, so much screen time is not only ineffective in reducing stress, but may end up triggering it instead.
A lot of people also give into binge eating to comfort food. It does give momentary relief as your brain releases the feel-good hormones but cause long-term adverse effects. And nope! Alcohol isn’t a great coping strategy either. In fact, it is not a coping strategy for stress at all. It can further push you to depression if it continues long enough.
So, when I say these aren’t great strategies, I do not mean that you should never bring your screen time to zero or stop going out for a beer with your buddies, or skip the pizza you were planning to eat for a sleepover. Everyone likes doing those things and for valid reasons. The only premise is that you do it like you normally do—in moderation.
Knowing what not to confuse as a coping mechanism will take you a long way in figuring out what you should be doing.
Let’s begin with something you should do as quick resorts.
The Quickest Resorts
Talk It Out
Maybe it is a reliable colleague; maybe your spouse; maybe your parents, you mentor, your friends; talk things out to someone who can give a patient ear and come forth with support. You will realize what an amazing coping strategy for stress it is. Talking to someone you trust makes you feel relieved of stress almost instantly.
Breathing is something that we take so much for granted. But I must tell you about the power it has. It’s immense, the power of the breath.
When you are stressed, your breathing becomes shallow, thus supplying lesser oxygen to your brain than needed. When you breathe consciously, it brings your attention to the body. When you deep breathe, enough oxygen goes to your lungs and your brain, causing reduction in stress.
Take a Short Break
Yes, it may sound so casual but taking a break actually works. Taking a short coffee break, a 20 minute break to read or just walk in the fresh air can do wonders. It takes that pressure off of your head and allows the required response time that the brain needs to react without stress.
Move a Muscle
Right, when you get moving, your brain will produce adrenaline and dopamine, helping you feel good about everything. And you don’t have to hit the gym necessarily. Play some basketball, go for a jog, play with your kid; do anything that involves physical activity. Yes, sex also helps. Go for it.
The Long Term Resorts
The long term goal is not rescue but maintenance; creating a mindset that knows how to keep stress away and if stress comes, how to manage it.
For this immediate coping strategies for stress may fall ineffective. So, there has to be some learning and some unlearning. This involves a slow training of your mind to realize that stress is induced by extrinsic factors that may not be in our control. In that case, only a positive mindset will help.
Remember that a negative thinking pattern never did any good. It will also hold true in this case. The situation that is causing stress will stay the same whether or not you fret about it. Rather, fretting about it will only have you make decisions that are either impulsive or too late or not well-thought-out.
So, let’s start viewing the stressor (the one that causes stress) objectively.
Shut off the panic button.
Let’s be more accepting of change.
Let’s be more positive.
Let’s take our time.
Let’s be flexible.
Adopt Yogic Practices
Yoga and meditation offer a holistic routine; actually more of a way of life than just routine. There are yoga asanas to keep you fit, breathing exercises for relaxation and improvement of cognitive function, and meditation for mental health. This is a combination all of us need no matter how healthy, wealthy or fit we are. With such practices you can over the time develop a body and mind that is resistant to stress.
Take up a Hobby
And why not? Some fun never hurt anyone. But the good thing about fun hobbies is that they have the ability to involve all your senses so much so that it can be equated to meditation. This is why studies have shown leisure activities may increase the sense of well-being in people who carry them out often. It may also help them recover quickly from stress
If you want to read more about stress, click here.
If you want to read more about a stress-friendly lifestyle, click here.
I wish you rapid healing and a swift recovery. To stay in touch please subscribe below!
Karen Litinsky MpsyD RMT
Author of Destruction Cycle
Co-Creator of Ego-Less meditation app (www.ego-less.me)
Owner of Paradise of Reality (www.paradiseofreality.com)