Do you ever feel like you are hanging on by a fraying thread? Even on the best days, stress can sneak in and take over our lives. Having an arsenal of coping strategies at the ready is critical. A network of personalized resources and tools will help you stay positive in negative situations, boost your confidence, and help you maintain a level of zen.
Why is coping with stress important?
Change is stressful. When something out of our routine happens or expectations go unfulfilled, it can be difficult to adapt to the challenges of processing new information or unexpected situations. Coping is what happens when we use learned skills to process and deal with perceived stress. We tend to think that stress is associated with only negative things that occur. Yet even positive happenings—like planning a wedding, purchasing your first home, or accepting a promotion at work—can bring moments of panic or worry. How we adjust and deal with them is critical to our mental, physical, and emotional health.
Common coping challenges
Experts agree that developing coping skills is not mastered in a day. It’s a series of learned habits or rituals that deal with events. In our personal or professional lives, we may be faced with moments that challenge us to the very core of our personality type and belief system, including:
- Engaging in problem-solving with others
- Lowering our expectations
- Assuming or assigning responsibility for situations
- Asking for help or recognizing the need to complete a task on your own
- Maintaining composure while expressing your thoughts and feelings
- Examining problems or challenges from another’s perspective
- Putting healthy boundaries around sources of stress
- Challenging your stance or others’ position when it is no longer helpful or pertinent to solving the issue
- Supporting and maintaining fulfilling relationships
Building coping skills
Dealing with roadblocks in your life isn’t just about the stress they cause. It’s about how you choose to handle them. Monumental challenges and daily anxieties will always be a part of life, so be prepared before they come your way. Practice good coping skills by:
- Taking time to process, digest then understand your situation before reacting
- Accepting your feelings while also listening to others’ perspectives
- Gathering information from trusted sources while sorting through the decision-making details
- Having a positive attitude and refusing to dwell on the negative
- Taking inventory of the good things in life
- Commit to caring about only what you can control
- Being your best advocate and knowing when to step up, speak up, and walk away
Lifetime strategies to combat stressors
Incorporate some or all of these things into your day to help keep anxiety away:
- A morning routine—yoga, exercise, prayer, meditation, or journaling—for the right frame of mind for the day ahead
- A good night’s sleep
- Physical activity to combat stress and releases feel-good endorphins
- Brief breaks away to grab fresh air and a new perspective
- Build-in daily or weekly time for hobbies and fun
- Eat healthy, good-for-you foods
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants
The earlier you can instill confidence and problem-solving skills in yourself, the more strategies you will have in your repertoire to calm and soothe yourself in overwhelming situations.