7 Tips On How To Handle Stressful Situations

Updated February 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Between our careers, relationships, and personal lives, we encounter stress in a variety of scenarios. Some of these situations may be small, while others are life changing. Either way, they can be challenging to navigate, often affecting our well-being and ability to perform the way we’d like. Learning effective stress management tips can make a significant difference in helping you function on a day-to-day basis and make it through difficult times. In this article, we’re going to cover stress management, addressing its importance and discussing seven tips for alleviating stress in demanding situations. 

The Importance Of Stress Management

Want To Better Manage Stress?

Stress is a normal, even healthy reaction to life events. It can motivate us, excite us, and help us safegaurd ourselves against danger. Excessive stress, however, can negatively impact both your physical and mental health. Some of the signs of stress in your life could include:

  • Irritability and lack of patience

  • Muscle tension

  • Headaches

  • Change in appetite

  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue

  • Digestive issues

  • Feeling overwhelmed

Experiencing these and other signs of stress can indicate the need for effective stress management strategies.

What Are Stressful Situations?

Stressful situations will look different for each person. What one person may be able to handle with ease, someone else may experience excessive stress over. You may experience stress over life-changing events in your life or over small everyday problems.

Large situations that could cause stress in your life could include things like:

  • The death of a loved one

  • Moving to a new area

  • Switching jobs

  • Getting divorced

  • Declaring bankruptcy

Although the above-mentioned life changes can produce stress, everyday stressors can also cause symptoms, particularly when they’re experienced chronically. Some chronic causes of stress can include:

  • Living paycheck to paycheck

  • Minor health concerns

  • Having an over-booked schedule

  • Working long hours

  • Fighting with a spouse or significant other

There are myriad other scenarios that may lead to stress, which is why it can be helpful to learn tips on how to handle stressful situations (some of which are outlined below). 

7 Tips For Coping With Stressful Situations

Although stress is often a response to taxing circumstances, it can actually make it harder for us to perform as well as we’d like. Having the ability to relax and quiet your mind during stressful situations can help you foster healthy relationships, be more productive at work, and improve your mental and physical health. Below are seven stress management tips that you may find helpful to use in your life. Remember, though, that each situation and person is different, so some of these tips may work better for you than others. Developing several useful tools can give you a better chance of managing stress when it arises. 

  1. Evaluate The Situation 

One of the first things that you may find helpful when facing a stressful situation is developing a solid understanding of the situation. Stress can cause you to have a skewed perspective, often making the task, confrontation, or other stressful event seem more complicated than it is. This is why it can be helpful to spend time looking at the situation objectively to identify what’s happening.

You may find it helpful to talk to people who you trust in your life to gain some outside perspective on the situation. They may be able to help you see things that you’re missing, such as possible solutions or an alternative way of viewing the problem. In addition to loved ones, a therapist can also provide insights into your concerns and help you reframe your thought processes in a way that limits stress in the moment. It is often easier to work through a stressful situation when you have a handle on what’s going on and are able to approach the problem with a new outlook.

  1. Learn To Identify Your Feelings

It can be easy to go about your busy day without taking time to identify your feelings. However, learning how to detect and label your emotions can be an important first step in addressing stressful situations. It’s been found that identifying and naming your emotions can help reduce their negative effects. Once you recognize the emotions you’re dealing with in a stressful situation, you can address them and move on so that they don’t hinder you without you realizing it.

  1. Practice Positivity

Stress can cause us to view things—our situation and ourselves—in a negative light. But research shows that positive thinking can help us manage these stressful moments. It may be natural to feel anger, sadness, and other negative emotions during a stressful situation. Focusing on the negative, though, can prevent you from finding solutions to the problem at hand or doing things that may alleviate stress. 

To practice positivity, it can help to know how negative thoughts may appear in your life. Do you often fear the worst during challenging times? Do you find that you’re a perfectionist whose stress arises when things don’t go exactly right? Think about how you can identify and replace these thought patterns, and you may find that you’re better equipped to navigate stressful moments in life. 

  1. Appreciate The Good Things In Your Life

During stressful situations, it can be helpful to think about the things that you’re thankful for in your life. For example, if work is causing you stress, it can help to remember that you have a vacation coming up or that you’re saving so that your child can go to college. 

You may find it helpful to keep a running list of things that you’re thankful for each day. Then, when you have moments when you are struggling to remain positive, you can look back at it and see the positive things that you have in your life.

  1. Be Proactive

Often, stressful situations occur when we find ourselves behind on a task or unprepared for an event. We can feel especially tense and worried when we haven’t planned for a stressful situation. If you often find yourself overwhelmed, consider examining the ways you organize your time and prepare for the future. There are many productivity tools available—calendars, to-do lists, etc.—that can help you be proactive and get more things done. While there may be many situations that are out of your control, taking steps to get ahead of your obligations can have an impact on your stress levels. 

  1. Remember To Care For Yourself

Want To Better Manage Stress?

During stressful times, practicing self-care can be particularly important. When you’re short on time or overwhelmed, you may not feel like eating, exercising, or spending time with friends; but these activities can be vital to your emotional well-being. 

Studies show that many self-care activities can lead to reductions in stress. For example, the results of one study suggest that meditation can decrease stress levels in college students. Other practices—like yoga, a regular sleep schedule, a balanced diet, and exercise—have been linked to lower stress as well. Consider developing a self-care routine, which may help you integrate several strategies consistently. 

  1. Reach Out For Support

Stressful situations can be easier to handle when you have people who can provide you with care and guidance. Your support network could consist of friends and family, a spiritual leader, a career mentor, or another person you’re close with. You may also consider participating in a support group made up of people who have gone through similar situations to what you’re experiencing.

If you’d like further support during this time, talking with a licensed mental health professional can be helpful. A qualified therapist can help you identify sources of stress and give you tips for managing it when it arises. 

Navigating Stressful Times With Online Therapy

There is an increasingly large number of studies that point to online therapy as an effective method of managing stress. In a study on the efficacy of online cognitive behavioral therapy for stress, researchers found that treatment improved the mental and physical health of the participants, who all fit the criteria for a stress-related adjustment disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a widely utilized method that helps individuals identify and replace negative thought patterns that may be underlying maladaptive emotions and behaviors, such as those that may lead to or worsen stress. 

Therapists, such as those at BetterHelp, can help you navigate stressful times in a healthy way. With online therapy through BetterHelp, you can avoid potentially stressful commutes to a therapist’s office by chatting with a licensed mental health professional remotely. Your therapist can also connect you with useful resources, such as at-home exercises that will allow you to develop stress management skills on your own time. 


Stress can affect us in a variety of circumstances and at many different times in our lives; but with the right tools and knowledge, it can be managed. If you’d like the guidance of a licensed mental health provider, consider taking advantage of accessible therapy through a platform like BetterHelp. You deserve the support of a professional as you manage stressful situations and continue down the path to improved mental well-being. 

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