Encountering stress is an inherent part of life. Whether they are small inconveniences or massive life events, stress is something we need to learn to manage and cope with. Finding appropriate ways to cope with stress can be difficult and is a reason why many people choose to just shove it down and not truly address the root of their problems. While ignoring stress management can work in the short term, in the long term it can lead to detrimental impacts on your wellbeing and mental health. Rather than bottling up your emotions and stress, you should try to cope with stress in healthy and effective ways. Below are eight methods that you could potentially use to help cope with your stress.
Taking time out of your day to do some self-reflection and truly understand the underpinnings of your stress is a great way to cope with stressful situations. Many people can identify they feel the effects of stress but struggle to determine why they have these negative thoughts. Figuring out the underlying reasoning behind emotions and feelings is a large component of emotional intelligence. Having self-awareness of why you feel the way you do can allow you to more effectively deal with your stress head-on. In fact, a study found that those with high emotional intelligence experienced lower job-related stress.
Practicing self-reflection to cope with stress is a great way to understand yourself better. After a while, you may begin to notice patterns in things or items that cause you stress and you can utilize this insight to minimize the amount of stress you encounter. Learning to know yourself a little better is a welcomed outcome of self-reflection and is what makes it such a good way to cope with stress.
2. Establish a regular exercise routine
Exercise is a fantastic way to cope with stress. Physical activity releases the body's natural painkillers and feel-good molecules known as endorphins. This release of endorphins is also paired with the traditional benefits of exercise which include getting in shape, promoting healthy bones, building muscles, improving your cardiovascular health, and so much more.
Stress often invokes the release of the body's fight or flight response hormone, cortisol, and the energy-boosting, blood pressure-elevating stress hormone, adrenaline. If you are sitting still and worrying or stressing about something, you are less likely to be able to overcome the flood of these potent hormones. Including exercise in your daily routine can help you to relieve this tension by giving you an outlet to utilize the built-up adrenaline while improving your physical health! After the exercise is over, you may find that it is much easier to confront and think about your original sources of stress.
3. Take up a hobby
Life can easily get overwhelming and stressful if you find yourself without a hobby or means of escape. Having an escape like a hobby can be a coping skill to allow you to forget about the items that are stressing you out and focus more on the tasks you enjoy. While an escape is not a long-term solution to chronic stress, it can give you time to cool down, take a break, and gain a new perspective. It can also act as an outlet to blow off some steam.
There are so many different hobbies you can pick up that the options are essentially limitless. Taking up outdoor exercise hobbies like mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, and trail running can give you a compound benefit by being fun, outdoors, including physical exercise, and a means of coping with stress. Supporting your hobbies is an important aspect of having a sense of satisfaction within your life. To support your outdoor hobbies, you should consider taking MitoQ’s specially formulated CoQ10 supplement to give your microscopic powerhouses the support they need to endure the high demands placed on them through intense exercise.
4. Focus more on your health and wellness
Your health and wellness are vital to letting you do anything else. You need to be healthy in order to work, function and exist. A healthy way to cope with stress is by taking care of yourself and your body. This method of coping can lead to a feedback loop where the mindfulness and relaxation techniques you take for self-care can alleviate your stress which is the ultimate goal of coping.
An example of this could be that you feel stressed about an upcoming presentation. Focusing that stress into your health, you decide to take your MitoQ supplements early in the morning on your presentation day and make a filling and nutritious breakfast. Having a balanced meal makes you feel more at ease and gives you the stress relief you need to optimally give your presentation later in the day. While this coping mechanism does not tackle the stressor at the source, it directs your energy to a task that is beneficial and can reduce your stress level in the long run.
5. Give yourself a break
If you are feeling overly stressed, you are most likely pushing yourself too hard and your body’s stress response is signaling to you to slow down and take it a little easier. Stepping back and taking a break is a completely healthy way to cope with stress. In fact, taking a break can help you to recover and restore your mental and physiological systems back to normal.
Next time you have a grueling week, request the next Monday off, take a deep breath, and enjoy a three-day weekend or try implementing more breaks throughout your workday to keep you focused and feeling less stressed. The grind 24/7 mindset is flawed in that without a break, you most likely are working inefficiently, not getting enough sleep, and bottling up stress. By ensuring you are giving yourself breaks you can not only reduce your stress but you can accomplish more in a day by being more productive with time management and the time you do spend working.
6. Talk with loved ones
A great way to cope with stress and become closer to those you love is to start an open dialogue about what is causing you stress. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why you feel stressed and having open communication with those around you can help you to gain insight or problem-solving skills to deal with the stressor.
A great way to start having more open discussions with your family is to implement a no phone policy during family meals. Having fewer distractions can make it easier for people to convey their feelings and better allow others to hear and comprehend what is benign said. Creating a time where everyone can get items off their plate, both literally and figuratively, makes for a very healthy family dynamic and an effective way to deal with stress.
7. Go outside
Going into the great outdoors has shown to have beneficial impacts on mental health and health in general. We encounter many stressors throughout the day including stress that comes from work, home, and even our environment. Going out into nature removes you from your daily stressors and puts you into an environment that makes you feel small and in awe. Going outdoors and appreciating the beauty of nature can allow you to step outside of yourselves and acknowledge that you are a part of a larger world. Gaining this perspective can allow you to look at the world through a different lens which can be just what you need to get past a stressor or to put it into perspective.
8. Seek expert guidance
If you feel that your stress is beyond simply causing you mild discomfort, is persistent no matter what you do, or is impacting your ability to function you may need to consider soliciting outside professional help. Healthcare professionals are well versed in topics surrounding stress-based illness and can help guide you and give you medical assistance if needed.
Knowing that you don’t need to tackle your stress alone in itself can be a relief and seeking professional help is something that should warrant no shame or apprehension. Healthcare providers are professionals whose duty it is to serve in the best interest of their patient.
The eight ways to cope with stress outlined above are great starting points to start coping with stress in a healthier way. After reading this article you now have a basic tool kit of actionable things you can do to cope with stress. Redirecting stress into exercise, hobbies, or your health is a great way to decrease your feelings of stress to allow you to better deal with the cause. Introspection, taking breaks, having open communication, going outside, and seeking expertise are ways to gain new insights into the underpinnings of stress to allow you to deal with the root cause. Utilizing these tools in combination can allow you to navigate stress and cope with it in a healthy and positive way.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.