Let’s Break up!”
Stress is a part of our everyday lives, and it is common and accompanies major life events, changes, and tasks. In my previous post, I wrote about stressors and the effects of stress on well-being. In this post, I will talk about coping with stress, which is an important life skill to deal with the demands and challenges of life. Resilience is the ability to tolerate stressful situations and recover quickly from difficulties. Various factors determine responses to stressful events. Some factors make us more resilient and reduce stress.
Being part of a group gives us a sense of identity and meaning. Our friends and family prevent us from using unhealthy ways to cope with stress. They encourage us to do better and believe in us. Research shows that support enhances the functioning of the immune system (Baron et al., 1990). Writing or talking about stressful events has positive outcomes. Meaningful relationships with other people allow us to express our feelings and share problems. It helps in reducing stress.
The belief that we can perform the behavioural control necessary to cope with stressful situations enables us to handle them. We assess resources according to circumstances and ask ourselves- “Can I handle these demands? Do I have the resources to cope with them?”. We gain more confidence in our abilities if we have succeeded in similar situations. Seeing others cope with stressors also improves our confidence, and motivation from other people provides a lot of support. Thus, various factors affect our assessment of resources.
Reactions to Stress
Reactions to stress also influence our perception of events. Increased pulse rate, sweating, and other reactions that we associate with stress can set us on edge. We can incorporate various techniques into our lives to reduce these physiological reactions. I practice mindfulness and meditation, which help me remain calm and focus on the positive aspects of life.
Beliefs and attitudes about the likely outcomes affect how we perceive a situation and its levels of stress. Attitudes affect our view of life and positivity helps us stay focused on the present instead of dwelling on problems. It lets us view situations as opportunities to learn. Gratefulness for the things we have in life makes us focus on the positive side of things. Maintaining a log or listing things we are grateful for can help us sum up the good parts of each day.
We take comfort in finding meaning in life and having a purpose or goal. Having a personal belief may help us in times of stress, and such situations may also add meaning to our lives. Some things of great personal significance to me are nature, travel, and art.
Various strategies can help us cope with stress. Problem-focused approaches emphasize dealing with stressful demands directly or changing the situation to make it less stressful when stressors are controllable. Making a timetable to study for an upcoming exam or being proactive are examples of this approach.
Techniques that focus on emotions seek to manage emotional responses to stressful situations. It includes perceiving situations in a manner that their emotional impact is reduced. Self-awareness becomes essential when using the emotion-focused strategy. Changing appraisals and practising relaxation techniques help reduce stress.
People also seek support and assistance in times of stress. It is useful when we can rely on people to provide support.
The power of a strategy depends on the characteristics of the situation. Learning to apply these coping strategies helps us adapt to stressful situations and makes us more resilient.
Ways to Manage Stress
There are various ways to remain calm and tolerate situations that cause stress. Relaxation, controlled breathing, and meditation help us release tension and gain a sense of control. Regular exercise and a healthy diet also increase our capacity to cope with stress.
Some actions enable us to feel a sense of control over our circumstances. Managing our time lets us allot time to different tasks at hand. I use a journal to organize thoughts and maintain timetables. I also use logs to track activities. To reduce undue stress, say “No” to tasks that are not important. Set realistic goals. Prioritize. Avoid procrastination.
Maintain a balance between work and recreation. We often forget to focus on things that make us happy. Art, gardening, and listening to music allow me to rejuvenate. These activities make me feel prepared for the next task. Recognizing things that make you feel relaxed can help you feel ready to handle stress.
Accurate assessment of our resources is essential. Negative perceptions can be replaced with positive ones to change our outlook. Adaptive thoughts help us have a realistic point of view. Empowering self-talk helps us motivate ourselves. Other people can also encourage us. Making gratitude logs focuses the mind on the positive aspects of life. It is a technique I often use myself, and it has added more meaning to my life.
Thus, resilience and learning to cope with stress can improve our lives in a lot of ways. A small change and effort can go a long way. Often, remembering the positives in life can help us overcome great difficulties and thrive in the face of stress.
“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one who has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.”
Please share with us the ways that help you cope with stress.
Baron, R. A., & Misra, G. (2016). PSYCHOLOGY Indian Subcontinent Edition, 5th edition. India: Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd.
Jennings, K.-A. (2018, August 28). 16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved from Healthline
Passer, M. W., & Smith, R. E. (2013). Psychology The Science of Mind and Behavior, 5th edition. Greater Noida: McGraw Hill Education (India) Private Limited.
*Image source – Canva