5 Ways To Cope With Stress

Coping With Stress: A Guide For Calm And Clarity

March 1, 2024

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp

Stress is a common part of life for many people. We juggle work and home life, social obligations, and family interactions every day. These responsibilities can create stress.

Additionally, we all experience stress in different ways. Both our mental and physical well-being can suffer when we’re stressed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at times, you’re not alone.

Learning effective stress coping strategies can help us navigate situations with calm and clarity.

What Is Stress?

According to a paper published in 2022, the definition of stress has expanded over time. The paper states:

The term stress was widely popularized in its biological connotation in 1936 by Hans Selye, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Stress was originally understood to be a collection of peripheral symptoms that accompany a variety of chronic illnesses affecting different parts of the body. However, since its conception, the term has taken on a broader meaning and encompasses the body’s response to any mental, emotional, or physical disturbance. Yale J Biol Med v.95(1); 2022 Mar

One way stress affects our health is along the hormonal pathway. Stress can trigger the release of certain hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol, for instance, prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. While some stress can be beneficial in helping us perform under pressure, chronic or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on our health.

5 Ways To Cope With Stress

How Does Stress Affect Mental Health?

Research studies have shown that chronic stress can have profound effects on mental health, increasing the risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found a link between stress levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, stress can impact cognitive function and mental health conditions. Cognitively, stress exposure can cause difficulties in concentration, memory, and decision-making. It can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions by contributing to overwhelm and burnout.

How Does Stress Affect Physical Health?

The impact of stress is not limited to mental health; it can also take a toll on our physical well-being. Research has found links between chronic stress and increased risk of physical malaise. Potential effects include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Additionally, stress can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

It can also contribute to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, substance misuse, and lack of exercise, further compromising our physical health.

5 Ways To Cope With Stress

5 Ways To Cope With Stress:

If stress appears objectively bad for us but also seems unavoidable, how can we cope?

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can effectively lower stress levels and improve overall well-being.
  2. Physical Activity: Regular exercise is a powerful tool for managing stress. Physical activity releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and reduce pain perception. Whether it’s going for a walk, practicing yoga, or hitting the gym, finding activities that you enjoy can help alleviate stress.
  3. Social Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide a sense of belonging and comfort during stressful times. Group therapy, in particular, can be effective in reducing stress and improving coping skills. Learn more about Group Therapy in this helpful blog: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/what-is-group-therapy-and-how-effective-is-it/
  4. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintaining a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol can support your body’s ability to cope with stress. Eating nutrient-rich foods and prioritizing self-care can help replenish your energy levels and enhance your resilience.
  5. Gratitude and Appreciation: Cultivating gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of life can shift your perspective and reduce stress. Keeping a gratitude journal, expressing appreciation for others, and finding joy in everyday moments can foster a sense of optimism and resilience.

Seeking Professional Therapy

Sometimes, managing stress on your own may feel overwhelming, and that’s okay. Seeking professional therapy can provide you with additional support and guidance in coping with stress.

A trained therapist can help you explore your thoughts and feelings, develop coping strategies, and work towards creating a healthier and more balanced life. Therapy offers a safe and confidential space for you to express yourself without judgment and gain valuable insights into your stressors and triggers.

5 Ways To Cope With Stress

Caring About Yourself Can Help

Caring about yourself is the first step for many when it comes to stress management. Too often, we deprioritize ourselves. When we put ourselves last on the list, our health may suffer. This lack of self-care can also make it more difficult for some to begin positive change.

Making a commitment to honoring yourself is more than a meme. When you make that decision, you may be able to begin utilizing some of the stress-busting strategies outlined here.

Managing Stress Is An Active Process

While stress may be unavoidable, how we respond to it can significantly affect our lives. By incorporating effective coping strategies such as mindfulness, physical activity, social support, healthy lifestyle choices, and gratitude into our daily routines, we can cultivate a sense of calm and clarity even in the face of adversity. Remember, you have the power to cope with stress and thrive amidst life’s challenges. And if you need a little help, support is available.

Image Credit: depositphotos.com

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