7 Tips On How To Handle Stressful Situations
Updated August 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC
There are a lot of stressful situations that people face in life. Some of these situations may be small, and other ones may be major life-changing situations. Either way, they can be challenging to navigate through. Learning effective stress management tips can make a big difference in helping you get through challenging and stressful times.
The Importance Of Learning How To Handle Stress
Living with stress doesn’t feel good. Stress can weigh heavily on your mental health and negatively impact your physical health as well. While it might present itself in slightly different ways, some of the signs of stress in your life could include:
- Irritability and lack of patience
- Muscle tension
- Change in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping and fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Feeling overwhelmed
If you’re experiencing these common signs of stress, it can be a good indication that it would be helpful to learn stress management strategies to use in your life.
What Are Stressful Situations?
Stressful situations will look different for each person. What one person may be able to handle with little or no stress, someone else may experience a lot of stress over. And, you may experience stress over big 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
Many people understand that large situations like that often come with stress. However, these same people may struggle to identify the source of stress in their own life. If you feel like you shouldn’t have stress because you’re not living through a large situation like one listed above, it’s important to give yourself a break.
Many things can cause stress in life. And, even small stresses can turn into chronic stress if not addressed. Some of the “smaller” causes of stress in life include things like:
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- Minor health concerns
- Having an over-booked schedule
- Working long hours
- Fighting with a spouse or significant other
Many things can arise daily that can lead to stress. This is why it can be helpful to learn tips on how to handle stressful situations even if you don’t feel like you need it at the moment. You never know when life is going to change, and you’re going to face something unexpected.
Tips On How To Handle Stressful Situations
There are many different tips available on how to handle stressful situations. Below are a few that you may find helpful to use in your life. However, remember that each situation and each person is different. You need to find the best coping strategies that work for you specifically. Here are a few places to get started.
- Make Sure You Understand The Situation The Best You Can
One of the first things that you may find helpful when facing a stressful situation is to learn everything you can about the situation. It can be easy to allow your perspective to cause you to see situations differently than what they actually are. This is why it can be helpful to spend time really looking at the situation objectively to identify what’s happening.
If you are too close to the situation, it may be hard for you to gain a proper perspective on this. Or, if you’ve been experiencing chronic stress, you may not realize where it’s coming from. You may find it helpful to talk to a few other people that you trust in your life to gain some outside perspective in this area. They may be able to help you see things that you might be missing.
It will be easier to work through a stressful situation if you understand it well and have the facts that you need to make wise decisions. It can be easier to deal with stress when you understand what’s causing it.
- Learn To Identify Your Feelings
It’s easy to go along in your busy day without really realizing and thinking about what you’re feeling. However, it can be an important first step in addressing stressful situations to learn how to identify and name your feelings.
It’s been found that simply identifying and giving a name to the emotions that you’re struggling with can help them to lose some of their power in your life. One psychologist has labeled this “name it to tame it.” Once you identify and know what emotions you’re dealing with in a stressful situation, it can help you start to regain control and see what needs to happen next.
- Commit To Having A Positive Attitude
If you’re overwhelmed with stress, it’s easy to start to see things in a negative light. It may be natural to feel anger, sadness, and other negative emotions during a stressful situation.
However, choosing to have a positive attitude can help you as you work through your stress. Focusing on the negative can cause you to keep highlighting the negative aspect of the situation. When your mind focuses on this, it can become difficult to look for solutions and see how you can handle your stress better. When you choose to have a positive attitude, it can help you keep your mind open to other options and solutions that may be available.
This doesn’t mean that you need to fake being happy when you’re going through a bad time in your life. It simply means that you allow your mind to stay open to positive thoughts and experiences as well. You choose not to let your mind stay focused on negative thoughts.
- Take Time To 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. Stress can have a way of making everything seem contrary. However, most people will be able to identify at least a few things that they’re thankful for, even in the midst of a stressful situation.
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 really struggling to remain positive, you can look back at the list and see all of the positive things that you have in your life.
- Identify The Things You Can Do To Improve The Situation
It can be tranquil when you are under stress to focus on all of the problems that are happening around you. But when you allow your mind to focus on the issue, it becomes harder to see any solutions.
This is why it’s helpful to be purposeful in looking for what you can do to improve your stressful situation. There may be many parts of it that are out of your control, but if you are proactively looking, you may be able to find a few things that you can do to make small improvements to the situation.
- Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
When you are experiencing chronic stress, it may be difficult to continue taking care of yourself the way that you usually do. When you’re short on time, and there are a lot of problems running through your mind, you may not feel like eating, exercising, or spending time with friends. It may feel difficult to find enjoyment in any activities because your mind is constantly focused on your stressful situation.
However, it’s important to continue taking care of yourself even when you’re going through a difficult time. Not paying attention to your self-care can end up compounding your stress and making your situation even worse. For example, if you don’t get the right amount of sleep at night, you may notice it impacting your ability to concentrate during the day. Or, if you are frequently skipping meals because you don’t feel hungry, you may find that your energy levels and physical health are declining.
Not taking care of yourself during stressful situations can make it harder for you to get through them.
- Reach Out For Support
Stressful situations can be easier to handle when you have others that can help support you throughout it. This could be close friends and family that you trust with the personal details of your life. Or, it could be a support group of people who have gone through similar situations to what you’re going through.
There really isn’t a right or wrong person that you can turn to for support, as long as it’s someone trustworthy and able to provide you with a listening ear or wise advice.
If you find that you don’t have anyone to turn to during this time, talking with a therapist can be helpful. Or, if you do have a good support system in place, you may still find it helpful to talk to a therapist who has the education and experience to guide you in the right direction.
Therapists, such as those at BetterHelp, can work with you to help you healthily navigate through stressful times. You don’t have to struggle through it alone.