Stress is a normal part of life. It is a reaction to a circumstance or situation where we feel anxious or threatened. While it may seem like there’s nothing you can do to remove stress completely from your life, there are ways you can take to regain control and relieve the pressure. Check out below 45 useful coping strategies that you can do to deal with stress and lead a happier, healthier life.
1. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
Eating healthy can reduce the effects of stress on your mind and body. A healthy diet can help fight off the impact of stress by lowering blood pressure and boosting up your immune system. Nutrients like Vitamin C, complex carbs, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium can help lower stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline while boosting serotonin levels to calm you down. Alternatively, you can indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods; just make sure to eat them in moderation or go for healthier alternatives.
2. Exercise on a regular basis
There are many proven studies about the inverse relationship between exercise and stress. Exercise is beneficial to both your mind and body. It can reduce stress hormones and stimulates the production of positive and happy hormones known as endorphins in your body. This can help counter not only stress but depression as well.
3. Take a break
Take a break from what’s causing your stress. If it’s about work, take a vacation or take small breaks in between to reset your mind. Stop and look out the window for a couple of minutes to rest your eyes and appreciate the view. This will help you refocus and recommit yourself from the task at hand.
4. Learn to accept
With coping strategies, there are some limitations. There are some things in life that we cannot determine or foresee and that lack of control can cause stress. Thus, it’s important to recognize those things and let them go. Having this kind of acceptance will help you manage stress better.
5. Keep a positive attitude
While you may not control the environment and circumstances around you, you can definitely control your own responses. It can be hard to stay positive at all times but it’s worth the effort to master it yourself for a healthier and more grateful you.
6. Get plenty of sleep
Too much stress already puts you in a bad mood and the lack of sleep can make it worse. You’ll only feel grumpier, more tired and you won’t be able to focus, which can be even more frustrating. Get adequate sleep every night to rest your mind and refresh yourself for the new day.
Consider trying meditation to clear your mind and destress. Taking even a few minutes in meditation can restore your inner peace. Many have said it helps them control stress, relax better, and reduce anxiety. One common way to meditate is through yoga, which helps to improve your overall wellness and calm you down. Check out our article on yoga poses you can do at home to destress and reset your mind after a long day.
8. Identify the source of your stress
Identifying the source of your stress might not be as straightforward as it seems but coping strategies are about learning how to face your problems directly. Look closely at your habits, environment, and routines, and identify the true sources of your stress. Once you pick them out, you have more awareness of what triggers your stress and how to eliminate or avoid those causes.
9. Make time for hobbies
Make time for your hobbies and pursue your interests. These coping strategies are essential in achieving the much-needed relaxation of your body.
10. Avoid negative and toxic people
The people around you can influence the way you feel. If someone consistently causes your stress, limit the time you spend with that person. If possible, completely avoid the person. Surround yourself with good influences and people who make you happy.
11. Be assertive rather than aggressive
It’s a common response to explode when you’re stressed out. Most of the time, that only worsens the issue rather than resolves it. A better way is to assert your opinions or feelings. Take a few deep breaths and say what you need to say in a direct manner. This allows you to think logically rather than letting your emotions get in the way and can help organize your own thoughts or feelings better.
12. Manage your time more efficiently
Manage your time efficiently to avoid built-up stress when you find yourself not being able to meet deadlines for the things that you should be doing. Prioritize those more important things and complete them first. Avoid spending too much time on less important tasks or procrastinating too much so that you can focus your time on more urgent matters.
13. Learn to say no
Learning to say no is an important part of simplifying your life. Constantly having too much on your plate at one time will only add on to your burdens. Say no to unnecessary distractions or appointments; only take on what you can manage. This is also essential for you to manage your time more efficiently as you now have more time to focus on more important tasks.
14. Don’t keep on complaining
Learning to say no can help lessen your burdens but don’t do it to a point where it becomes your excuse for not doing anything. Accept new tasks, take things in your stride and don’t keep complaining. Complaining constantly puts you in a negative mood, which further triggers stress towards your situation.
15. Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol
Alcohol and drugs are never good to fight off stress. While they may provide short-term relief, it can contribute to the feeling of anxiety that makes stress harder to deal with in the long run. These substances can also lead to addiction, which means you rely on them more heavily to keep you going.
16. Have a positive self-talk
Positive self-talking can be one of your best emotion-focused coping strategies. A simple “I can do this” can make a lot of difference in boosting your morale and motivate you to go on. Replace those negative thoughts with positive self-affirmations instead.
17. Talk it out
While self-talking is good, talking it out with a third party can be equally beneficial. Talk to your family and most trusted friends; you might find relief by simply talking it out. Feel free to rant and vent it out as much as you need to let everything out. They might even be able to give you some useful advice to help with your situation.
18. Focus on good memories
Another great coping strategy to relieve your stress is to focus on good memories. You can do this by doing a scrapbook or photo album. This puts your mind in a good place and helps you to focus on the positive side of things.
19. Read a book
Books are great in helping your mind relax and rest from the noises of the world. Choose self-help books that focus on the positivity of life and help create a hopeful outlook of your reality. Alternatively, you can read a fun and engaging book that takes your mind of the cause of stress and immerses you into another world temporarily.
20. Write in a journal
Writing in a journal is an effective and healthy coping mechanism to relieve you from stress. What’s good about this is you really can be purely honest and true to yourself; this is your journal for your eyes only. Record your thoughts, impressions, and emotions. It’s a healthy way to express your emotions and perceptions about your life. In the future, you can look back and reflect on how you got past that stressful situation.
21. Use a relaxation app
There are a number of relaxation apps out there that you can consider to cope with stress. These apps use various techniques to help you to be more mindfully aware of your stress and guides you in restoring a calm state of mind. Think of it as a counselor and motivation coach on your phone that you can turn to any time. For some useful apps to try, check out our article on the best health apps to add to your phone.
22. List the things you are grateful for
Gratitude can enhance your emotional wellbeing. List the things that you are grateful for to cope up with negative stress. This helps to change your perception and view on the matter into something more constructive. You’ll soon realize that there are a lot more things in life to focus your energy on rather than being stressed.
23. Squeeze a stress ball
There’s a reason why it’s called a stress ball. Squeezing a stress ball can act as a way to release your anxiety and tension. If you need some added encouragement to get you through this stressful time, you can try these stress balls with motivational quotes.
24. Go for a walk
Going for a walk alleviates mild depression and reduces stress hormones. Head outside to get some fresh air or just get up and walk to the office pantry to get a coffee or snack. Go for a walk at least 30 minutes a day to boost your stress-busting endorphins, which will improve your mood and overall wellbeing. Use this short break to enjoy the things around you and calm your mind.
25. Walk with your friends
Going for a walk alone is great but why not make it a group activity? Doing it with others can make the activity more fun as you have some company to chat with along the way. Get your friends and colleagues to join you and destress together; the more the merrier!
26. Push yourself further
Ironically, working harder can be one of the best problem-focused coping strategies that you can do to relieve stress. If you’re a student, try staying up a little later to study for your exams. If you’re an employee, go the extra mile to deliver your reports on time and boost your performance. Be careful though — you should listen carefully to your body and mind so you don’t overwork yourself; take a rest if you need it. This coping technique usually works if your stress is caused by the anxiety of not being productive enough for the day.
27. Imagine that you are in a better situation
Sometimes, emotion-focused coping strategies might work better for you. One way to do that is to imagine or dream that you are in a better situation. It could be a better financial situation or a better position at work. This can help you envision your future goals a lot better and motivate yourself to reach them. Don’t trick yourself too much though; the idea of this strategy is to gain the motivation to take the necessary steps to improve your situation. Simply being idealistic but doing nothing will only cause your tasks to pile up and add on to your stress.
28. Deal with your mistakes
Mistakes are usually the source of people’s stress. Dealing with them effectively rather than constantly mulling over them can help you move forward. Learn from those mistakes and try not to do them again so you don’t put yourself in that negative situation again.
29. Look at your successes too
While it’s important to look at your faults and shortcomings, it’s just as crucial to celebrate your successes too. Every success, no matter how small, is a step forward towards improvement. Try to focus on these instead to prove to yourself that you’re in the right direction.
A resilient mindset doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Sometimes, you just have to “fake it ’till you make it”. Cultivating mental strength takes practice and determination so keep at it and soon it’ll be a natural part of your life.
31. Don’t overreact to the things around you
There’s gonna be lots of things happening in just a single day and it can easily create an overwhelming feeling. Don’t overreact to the things around you; you’ll only blow things out of proportion and stress yourself out even more. Deal with them one at a time in a logical and calm manner.
32. Bond with your pet
If you have a furry friend at home, spend some time with them. Clinical studies suggest that bonding with your pet even for a short time can reduce significantly your anxiety levels. Take them out for a walk or play with them for a while; it’ll be a win-win situation for you and your pet!
33. Alter your situation
Sometimes, it’s daunting and difficult to avoid your stressful situation. Whenever possible, alter your situation and take some level of control. Compromise and be flexible. For example, if your stress is caused by financial insufficiency, then you can work on how you can earn more money and eventually change your financial situation. Altering your situation sometimes require much of your effort and time, but the result is just of much value.
34. Change yourself
Sometimes, the way to resolve your stressful situation is to look inwardly at yourself. Review your strengths and weaknesses and reflect on what aspects of yourself needs improvement. Who knows, you might realize that your stress could be resolved or lessened by changing the way you do or view things?
35. Practice breathing
One of the most effective coping strategies is taking deep breaths in and out. When you’re feeling really stressed, pause for a few minutes and focus on your breathing. Keep doing so until you feel relaxed and your brain fog has cleared, then you can get back to your work feeling refreshed and clear-minded.
36. Focus intently on other things
For a moment, heighten your awareness by intentionally focusing on something else other than the cause of stress. Savor your meal. Learn to notice and appreciate the beautiful nature around you. This mindfulness and healthy coping mechanism leads to relaxation and tranquility.
37. Organize your day
Make a list of the things that you should do in a day. By organizing your schedule, you get a clearer view of what to expect for the day and give yourself time to prepare for them. This also helps remind you of certain things you need to do so you don’t forget them in the midst of your busyness. Once you are able to do tasks in an orderly manner, you won’t feel as overwhelmed and stressed over the number of things you need to do.
38. Do intentional self-care
Set aside a time every day to work on relaxation and do intentional self-care. Put aside your work and just focus on yourself. Use this time to do whatever you like; be it pampering yourself, eating your favorite food or listening to music.
Laughing automatically puts you in a better mood. Try watching a funny video or catch up with friends who make you laugh to help you destress. Your stress and worries will be forgetten in no time and you can get back to work with a fresh and renewed state of mind.
Sometimes, it might feel a little awkward to force a laugh amid your stressful situations. A simpler yet just as effective trick to cope is to smile. Smile at the people around you rather than putting on a constant scowl on your face. You’ll be surprised that a mere smile can help you deal with stress more easily. The more you smile, the more it’ll become second nature and your mood will naturally improve.
41. Give someone a hug
Give someone a hug; it can be a partner, family member or close friend. Hugging not only makes you happier, but healthier. Hugging boosts oxytocin levels in our bodies. Scientists often refer oxytocin as the “cuddle hormones” which makes us happier and more secure.
42. Stretch at your desk
As mentioned earlier, taking breaks is a great way to relieve stress. Even if you’re rushing on something, rest for a short while to stretch out your limbs. If you can afford the time, get up and do some light stretching to loosen up your body from all the tenseness of sitting for too long.
43. Clean your space
Whether it be cleaning your room or desk, cleaning is an effective mindfulness technique. When the things around you are organized and neat, you effectively “tidy up” your state of mind as well. This can improve productivity and improve your mood.
44. Seek out social support
One of our earlier tips was to talk things out — a way to do that can be in a social group. Seeking out social support plays a huge role in your coping strategies. You will benefit greatly from emotional and social support. Social support gives you a sense of autonomy and improves your self-esteem. Proactively grow your network, both online and offline, and find likeminded people you can confide in.
45. Seek professional help
Despite your greatest efforts, your personal coping strategies might not be enough. When stress makes you feel out of control and greatly interrupts your life, seek professional help. While your loved ones and support groups can help and offer advice, the extent of what they can do is limited. Professional support involves people with expertise and legal certifications to conduct therapies, diagnose, and give recommendations. Talk with your primary health care professional on how you can resolve your stress and to connect you with a counselor if necessary.
Everyone has stress in their lives — the key difference is in how you deal with it. It is possible to live in a world of stress and pressure and still be positive and contented. These coping strategies are not meant to remove stress completely but they will help you deal with it better. Remember that your mental health and stability always comes first, no matter how busy you may be.