6 Ways To Cope With Stress And Find Relief

Updated October 2, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.  A person’s body reacts to changes with mental, emotional, and physical responses.  While stress is a normal reaction and part of everyday life, when those reactions become bothersome or disrupt daily life, it’s important to learn stress management techniques to help find stress relief.

Causes of Stress

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You Can Overcome The Stresses Of Everyday Life With Therapy

Many factors can cause stress in your life.  While the things that trigger stress differ from person to person, there are some things that are common sources of stress for many people.  Stress responses can occur related to changes in both your internal and external environment.  Common causes of increased stress levels include personal or work relationship changes, financial difficulties, and health problems.

Life Changes

No matter how close a family is, demands for time and attention can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Juggling work responsibilities with those of work and other activities can cause disruptions in stress level and anxiety.  Marriage, divorce, pregnancy, and death are all major life events that can increase the stress in your life.  Because of new responsibilities and expectations, even exciting or planned life events can cause stress.

Work

Changes in employment status or job title often result in increased stress levels.  Fear of losing a job may cause some people to stay in stressful positions rather than requesting a transfer to a new, less stressful position.

Illness

Any sickness, whether it is acute (sudden, short) or chronic (long-term), can result in feelings of stress.  It’s important to recognize symptoms of stress and to take measures to decrease stress if necessary.

Long-Term Effects of Stress

Because the long-term effect of stress on a person’s mental and physical well-being can be staggering, it is important to learn ways to manage stress.  Some common complications related to uncontrolled stress include the development of depression, anxiety, and immune deficiencies.  Physical changes, such as headaches, decreased libido (sex drive), heart palpitations (heart fluttering), chronic fatigue, and weight loss or gain may occur.

Changes in mood and behavior, such as outbursts of anger or hostility and aggression can also occur. Alcohol and/or drug use may become an issue as many people who are overly stressed or who don’t know how to cope effectively with stress, may turn to those substances as a way of escape.  Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal thoughts and behavior may be the result of uncontrolled stress, especially if the affected person does not feel that they have a support system.  If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  The Lifeline is available 24 hours per day.

A composite list of the most common symptoms related to stress includes:

  • Dizziness
  • General aches and pains
  • Acid reflux symptoms
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck, face, or shoulders
  • Insomnia
  • Racing heart
  • Sweaty palms
  • Trembling or shaking for no apparent cause
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Tips to Cope with Stress

Although stress is a natural response, increased stress levels do not have to cause major interference in your life.  Learning to identify symptoms of increased stress and how to cope with it can help decrease the chances of long-term problems later in life.  Coping strategies can be as simple as a change in habits or routines and what works for you may differ from what is most effective for someone else.  The idea is to do things that focus on your own mental and physical well-being.

Tips #1:  Get Enough Rest and Sleep

Lack of adequate rest can have a negative effect on both physical and mental health and well-being.  Make it a priority to have periods of rest and plan for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you are used to going to bed at different times at night, consider setting an alarm on your phone or watch that will signal you that it’s time to get activities wrapped up for the day.  Make sure your bed is clean and free of clutter, that your thermostat is set to a comfortable setting, and that you were clothes that are not restrictive.  Turn off your television and, if you need to have noise, play some soothing music to help you fall asleep.

Tip #2:  Journal… This Will Put You in Control of Your Thoughts and Emotions

Journaling is a great way to address your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way.  Consider taking a little time each evening before bed to write about your day.  You can make notes about what you did, how you felt, and list things you may want to do.  Create a list of things that make you feel happy and things that make you feel stressed.  Try matching the things that make you feel stressed with an activity or thought that makes you feel at peace and focus on that positive thing when you begin to feel stressed.

Tip #3:  Exercise

When we exercise, our body releases endorphins into the bloodstream.  Endorphins are commonly referred to as the happy hormones.  The physical benefits of exercise include the risk of stress-related illnesses. A walk around the neighborhood or in the park, a bike ride, or workouts are great ways to get your body moving and relieve stress levels.

Tip #4:  Practice Self-care

Although self-care is theoretically simple, many people are unaware of its importance in reducing stress and anxiety.  In fact, self-care is one of the most beneficial steps in reducing stress and improving overall well-being.

Practicing self-care means that when you feel the stress begin to build, you become aware of its effects and implement measures to reduce it.  It means being okay with slowing down, getting rest and sleep, and caring for yourself before anything else.

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Take a bubble bath, read a book, do yoga or meditate.  Also, learning to say no to extra commitments that don’t benefit you can be helpful.  Keep in mind, it is not selfish to deny pouring out of yourself and into others if you are tired or stressed.

#5:  Lean on Your Support System

You need to be able to rely on supportive people who will let you talk about your feelings and who will offer some positive reinforcement for you in a non-judgmental way.

#6:  Ask for Help

No matter how strong a person is, there are times that extra help is a must.  If stress is overwhelming or if you feel like you can’t handle the effects of stress on your own, seeking the help of a therapist or a counselor could be beneficial.

Options for counseling or therapy include individual, family, and group counseling.  There are support groups that teach coping mechanisms to help reduce stress, as well.

If you need help and have a counselor or therapist in mind, call today for an appointment for a consultation.  If you don’t know where to turn and would like to see a local therapist, ask your primary care provider for a list of resources, and to help connect you with someone.  If the idea of adding another appointment or errand to your life makes you feel more stressed, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options.  Online counseling services are a growing trend as people realize the need to deal with emotional and mental health issues.  These online service providers, like BetterHelp, give individuals an opportunity to connect with licensed, professional counselors, social workers, and doctors when and where it is most convenient.

Treatment Options for Stress Management

In addition to the tips for relieving stress above, there are treatments available.  Talk therapy, medication, complementary therapies, and ecotherapy are some alternatives.

Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, involves techniques that focus on helping individuals identify and change troubling emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.  It includes providing education, support, and guidance to people who experience stress, anxiety, or mental health disorders.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your primary care provider may feel that it is appropriate to prescribe medication to help manage some of the symptoms related to stress.  Each person is different and self-medicating for stress is dangerous, and not advised. You should talk to your doctor about potential medication options.

Complementary therapy is a term used for any treatment that is done without the use of medications.  Examples include aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation.

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You Can Overcome The Stresses Of Everyday Life With Therapy

Ecotherapy is believed to improve a person’s emotional well-being by spending time in nature.  Gardening and exercising in areas outdoors are a few examples

What’s important is to realize that you can address the issues that cause stress in your life and learn to handle them in ways that are constructive for your well-being.  While experiencing stress is normal, it does not have to disrupt your daily life or cause anxiety.  Consider these tips for reducing stress and reach out for help.

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