The daily pressures of life mean that stress is an inevitable response. We live in a world where the constraints of life are increasingly high, and sometimes stress gets the better of us. We all stress to different extents, and in different ways but nevertheless , we’ve all experienced stress in some way or another. There’s no official definition of stress, but it’s essentially the body’s response to feelings of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.
Stress can manifest itself in many ways, and can affect your mental health, physical health, your general health, and can even (in some cases) have a profound effect on your personal life too.
So, it’s important to deal with stress. There are several ways to deal with stress, such as seeking help (therapy), and learning to help yourself. This post focuses on the latter.
I thought I’d share some coping mechanisms. The coping mechanisms I discuss here are ones that I use myself. This post is therefore a personal one and uses no information from any other sources. The aim with this post is to just give you some ideas on coping with stress. So, here are some coping mechanisms to deal with stress:
1. Eat healthy:
I mean, this is something you should really be doing every single day, regardless of how you feel! But, I mean this in the sense that when you feel stressed, most people typically resort to comfort foods (the carbs, and fats!) However, it’s important to remember the benefits of eating healthy with regards to your overall health. So, try to resist the urge to eat unhealthy when feeling stressed (although this is easier said than done).
2. Allow yourself to be ‘immature’:
I mean, in all seriousness, there’s no need to be serious all the time. Life’s too short to be an adult all the time, and you need to allow yourself to relax. By this I don’t mean that you should forget all your responsibilities, but what I do think is that you should allow yourself to not be so serious all the time. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t stood in the mirror with a brush singing along to Beyonce’s single ladies, or delivered a thank you acceptance speech for winning a Grammy for best new artist? So, just try not to be so serious all the time and allow yourself to relax a little.
3. Spend time with others:
It’s important to spend time with those that are important to you, and it can really help you to de-stress. Be it with family or friends, be sure to spend some time with the important people in your life.
4. Schedule in some down time (alone time):
It’s also important to get to know yourself, without others clouding your opinion of yourself or passing judgment. This time should be spent doing something you enjoy (I imagine in most cases this will involve just relaxing, away from all the noise). However it’s important to remember that whilst this is incredibly important, spending too much time alone can also lead to ruminating (in other words, overthinking). Too much thinking isn’t good, and often leads to increased stress. So, it’s important to ensure that you set aside some time alone, but (like with everything) in moderation.
5. Be more mindful:
Mindfulness simply refers to taking the time to concentrate and live in the present moment. Mindfulness has been found to help with anxiety and depression related symptoms, and really helps you to ‘slow down’ from the pressures of daily life. For more information on mindfulness, see my post: https://mind1matters.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/mindful-about-mindfulness/.
6. Find something you enjoy doing that can help you to relax:
There’s so many things that you can do, e.g. music, art, sports, running, dancing, the list is endless. The idea is to use this activity you enjoy to help you to relax a little. You can even use this activity as a technique when the feelings of stress appear. Engaging in an activity can help you to guide your concentration to something you enjoy.
7. Try to exercise:
It’s important to remain healthy, through diet (tip 1), but also through regular exercise. This could be through sport, walking, cycling, or any other physical activity. Walking especially has been found to help with feelings of stress. Try going for a mindful walk – by that I mean allow yourself to pick up all the sensory information on your walk. Look at the trees, the colour of the leaves, concentrate on your breathing. The idea of a mindful walk is to be more aware of what is happening internally (within your body), and externally (around you).
8. Have someone to talk to:
There has been a massive campaign over the past few years, encouraging people to talk more openly about mental health. I’ve been somewhat of a part of this, but although I’m able to lend an ear to anyone who wants to talk, I’m not so comfortable talking to others about myself. This is true for many people. However, it’s important to have someone you can go to if you ever do need to/want to talk. Talking to someone can help put things into perspective from an object point of view, and so may help to clarify things in a way that you weren’t able to subjectively do.
So, here’s 8 ways to cope with stress, but if you suffer from persistent stress that is having a profound effect on your life, it’s important to seek the appropriate help. It’s also important that we continue to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, and so talking about the subject (including stress) is extremely helpful.
Thank you for reading.