Coping with Stress
1Exercise your body. When experiencing stress, your brain produces hormones that tell the body to prepare to respond to a threat. Serious stress can compromise your mental health and may cause physical symptoms, too. One good way to manage stress is through exercise.
- Exercise and physical activity can bring relief to tense muscles.
- Exercise also causes the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make you feel good and inhibit your body’s stress response. They also help to improve your mood and help you feel calmer.
- Try different activities to find one you enjoy. Good activities are yoga, walking, dancing, and sports that help get your heart pumping.
- When you are feeling stressed, it may be tempting to skip exercise because it is one more thing you have to do. However, the benefits will be clear in the long run.
2Eat well. Proper diet and eating habits can also help reduce stress. Specifically, keep the following tips in mind:
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol. Too much of either of these substances can promote anxiety. More than one or two alcoholic beverages per day can make it harder to cope with stress.
- Make mealtimes a calm, relaxed experience. Don’t rush your eating.
- Don’t overeat. Avoid using food as a way to cope with stress.
- Some foods contain nutrients that help your body manage stress. Specifically, avocados, bananas, tea, whole grains, fatty fish, carrots, nuts, yogurt, and chocolate are all thought to help manage stress.
3Get enough sleep. Sleep is a time for your body to repair and process the stress from the day. It is the time your brain has to unwind. It also allows your body to relax after using tense muscles throughout the day.
- Sleep acts as the reset button for your stress level. It helps you to avoid serious stress responses such as anxiety.
- It is important that your get enough sleep and that the sleep you get is of good quality. For example, you don’t want noises waking you up frequently during the night. To help reduce stress, get 6-8 hours of restful sleep each night.
4Practice mindful meditation. Mindful meditation is meditation that requires you to focus on the present moment. Practicing mindful meditation puts focus on simply being and not doing anything else in the moment.
- You can meditate for as little as 30 minutes per day. Even this amount produces beneficial changes in behavior and brain function. Mindfulness decreases emotional reactivity, anxiety, and depression.
- Start by finding a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably and pay attention to your thoughts. Let your thoughts pass through your mind, coming and going from your awareness.
- Focus all of your attention on the present moment, and pay close attention to your breathing. Take note of what you see, hear, and feel. Notice where in your body you are holding tension. Acknowledge any thoughts, worries or emotions that come up, and then let them go.
- If your mind starts to wander, or you start to dwell on worries, refocus your attention on your breathing.
1Question your inner-critic. Feeling good about yourself is crucial to mental health. Worry and negative thoughts can bog you down and keep you from feeling your best. Self-doubt can be particularly distressing. The following exercises can help you quiet your inner critic and soothe your worries:
- If you catch yourself worrying and or thinking negatively about yourself, ask yourself some questions. For example: “Is this thought kind to myself?” “Is this thought true?” “Would I say this to someone else?” The answers to these questions can often help reduce self-doubt.
- Change a negative thought to make it truer or kinder. For example, you might find yourself thinking: “I never get anything right.” Try to make this more truthful by thinking instead: “Sometimes I don’t get things right, but other times I do a really great job. It is ok that I can’t do everything, and I am proud of what I can do.”
2Focus on your strengths. In times of difficulty, focus on qualities that can help you get through life’s challenges.
- For example, if you might find yourself thinking: “I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen. What if something terrible happens?” In this case, you can remind yourself of your strengths. You might say to yourself: “I do not like not knowing what will happen, but I do know that I have overcome unforeseeable events in the past. I trust my ability to handle whatever comes my way.”
- Acknowledging what you value about yourself will remind you of your worth, which is essential to mental wellness. Valuing your strengths can remind you of how capable and competent you are.
- It is helpful to write down your thoughts about your strengths, or even start a journal. Here are some helpful prompts to get you started: What makes you feel strong? Is it something you do, or a certain environment? Describe what you feel in moments of strength. Confidence? Pride? List 5 qualities about yourself that are strengths. Which of these is the most important? Why?
3Practice self-affirmation. Self-affirmation is an exercise in which you remind yourself of your worth by saying or writing down things that you like or admire about yourself. Routinely acknowledging the attributes you love about yourself can give you a huge boost in self-esteem.
- Say what you like about yourself out loud in a mirror. Anytime you have a moment, you can do this short exercise. Doing it repeatedly will help build self-esteem.
- An example of an affirmation would be: “I love what a great friend I am, and I proud of how I treat my friends.”
- Another example could be: “I love that my hair is curly because it is different. I’m glad I am embracing my hair today.”
- Studies show that self-affirmation can also help relieve stress and promote creative thinking in stressful situations.
Managing Negative Emotions
1Take time for yourself. Coping with strong emotions can be hard, but dealing with them is a part of engaging in life. Being able to regulate your emotion and sooth your own pain is an essential part of mental wellness. Part of this is taking time every day to do things that make you feel good.
- What makes you feel good will vary for each person. You probably already have activities that help you cope with emotion.
- Some great examples include talking with a friend, taking a walk, listening to music, or engaging in another soothing activity like a bubble bath.
2Practice self-awareness. Be mindful of your own emotional responses to outside events. Take time to think about your reactions to difficult situations.
- Instead of reacting immediately to a negative event, try to remove yourself mentally for a moment to note your emotional response. Many people find it helpful, for example, to take a couple of deep breaths, or count to ten before reacting.
- Think about what you are feeling without judgment. Doing this allows you the space to react in a way that is not impulsive, but that is thoughtful.
- Being aware of your emotions is especially helpful in navigating communication and relationships.
3Keep a journal. Journaling can help you to organize your thoughts and feelings. This can increase your awareness of your own emotional reactions. It has both mental and physical benefits, such as boosting your immune system and relieving stress. Here are some helpful journal prompts:
- How are my feelings connected to this event? How are they not connected?
- What do these feelings tell me about myself and my needs?
- Am I judging my emotional response? What assumptions am I making through my judgments?
- Try to write in your journal for at least 20 minutes each day.
Maintaining Healthy Relationships
1Recognize the features of healthy relationships. Social support is important during difficult times. Friends, family, and coworkers can all offer emotional support and help with stressful life events. Social support also offers you a place to feel accepted and secure. Look for these components in your relationships:
- Trust. Trust is essential to building a strong, healthy relationship. It allows for vulnerability through intimate disclosure of our truest selves.
- Respect. Respect in relationships means that you accept the other person’s opinions, needs, and boundaries. Respect also includes avoiding hurtful comments, name calling, and belittling.
- Listening. Listening is one way to clearly communicate respect and caring to the other person. Practice active listening by allowing plenty of time for the other person to speak. Take note of what they are saying as well as how they are saying it. Look for others to do the same.
- Freedom. Freedom in a relationship means that you allow the other person time for his or herself. You also allow them to foster other relationships in life. It means that you allow each other to express your needs without consequences.
2Recognize the features of unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, some relationships can be unhealthy or even abusive. Abuse in relationships is often about controlling the other person either physically or emotionally. Here are some behaviors that might suggest the other person is abusive:
- Purposefully embarrassing you
- Being overly critical
- Ignoring or excluding you
- Being moody and unpredictable often
- Controlling where you go and limiting who you can see
- Using phrases like “If you don’t _____, I will_____.”
- Using money to control you
- Checking your cell phone or email without your permission
- Being possessive
- Exhibiting temper or extreme jealousy
- Pressuring, using guilt, or forcing you to have sex
3Assess your relationships. Once you understand what makes for a healthy or unhealthy relationship, take some time to consider your social circle and the people in it. Think about which relationships are most supportive, and which might be abusive.
- If there are abusive relationships in your life, consider confronting the abusive individuals about their behavior. You may also need to consider removing those people from for support network, especially if they are not receptive to your concerns. These people are damaging to your mental health.
- By the same token, you may want to spend more time with those individuals who are most supportive.
4Engage in healthy relationship behaviors. Maintaining positive relationships is not just about the behaviors of others. It is about your own behaviors as well. Here are some tips for maintaining healthy relationships:
- Learn what each of you want as individuals as well as what each wants from the relationship.
- Express your needs and be receptive to the needs of others.
- Recognize that you will not find complete happiness through one relationship.
- Be open compromise and learn to negotiate outcomes you can both accept.
- Accept and love the differences between yourself and others.
- Practice empathy by trying to understand others’ perceptions and points of view. When serious issues come up, try to negotiate with honesty and compassion.
What can I do about mental and emotional pain in a relationship?
Talk it out with your partner. You will feel relief if you let him/her know what’s going on, and they could understand and/or help you through.
Why do people think that I have a learning disabilities?
Though it’s not nice, they’re probably joking around and think you’re slow at answering questions. But don’t worry, everyone learns at their own pace.
Can sex help in coping with stress?
It can, yes. All forms of touching and intimacy can help.
What if my partner has no time for me but has time for his friends?
Is your partner rude to you? Does he act like your feelings don’t matter? Does he put himself before you? Could you say he thinks he is superior to you? If you answer yes to any of those, than it may be time to talk to a counselor and even weigh the possibility of a break-up.
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- Use a journal to process emotions that are not pleasant such as sadness, emptiness, feelings of abandonment. This is good exercise before going to sleep.
- Make a habit of this thinking positively to stay motivated and inspired.
- If you have serious concerns about your mental health, seek the care of a licensed counselor or therapist. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek help immediately.
In other languages:
Español: tener buena salud mental, Deutsch: Gute mentale Gesundheit erreichen, Português: Ter uma Boa Saúde Mental, Italiano: Avere una Buona Salute Mentale, Русский: укрепить свое психическое здоровье, Français: avoir une bonne santé mentale, 한국어: 정신을 건강하게 유지하는 법, 中文: 拥有健康的心智, ไทย: มีสุขภาพจิตที่ดี, Bahasa Indonesia: Memiliki Kesehatan Mental yang Baik, Nederlands: Een goede mentale gezondheid hebben, العربية: الوصول إلى صحة عقلية جيدة, Tiếng Việt: Sở hữu Sức khoẻ Tinh thần Lành mạnh
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