How To Cope With Stress During Life’s Challenges

Updated January 31, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Life can be challenging. We may find ourselves dealing with things like job stress, job loss, divorce, health problems, moving, and more. Life is full of transitions—both good and bad—that can add stress to your life. Learning how to cope with stress can be an important factor for your mental and physical health.

Signs Of Stress In Your Life

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Before you can learn how to cope with stress, it helps to learn how to acknowledge it in your life. If you’ve already been used to living with stress, it may be more difficult for you to notice the signs of it during the challenging times that you face. It may not seem as out of place as it should because you feel used to it.

Learning how to identify when your stress levels are rising is the first thing that helps in learning how to cope.

Some of the signs of high-stress levels that you should look for in your life include:

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Muscle pain

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Hives

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Diminished sexual desire

  • Chest pains

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Change in appetite

If you notice these in your life or other health problems that are out of the ordinary from the way you normally feel, it’s important to look into why it’s happening. It can be wise to talk with a doctor to rule out any possible causes for the symptoms you’re experiencing. They can help you rule out more serious conditions so you can begin to learn how to cope with stress.

Understanding The Danger Of Stress Levels

If you read through the symptoms of stress, you’ll probably get a good idea of why you don’t want to let it linger in your life. It can cause all kinds of symptoms in both your physical health and mental health which can also lead to even more serious problems.

Stress has been linked to problems such as eating disorders, depression, diabetes, and heart problems. Unfortunately, you don’t have control over the fact that sometimes you’re going to be faced with challenges in life. However, you can learn stress management techniques that can help you cope with it in a healthier way.

How To Cope With Stress

The following strategies can help you cope as you experience stress in life. While these can be helpful when you’re in the midst of life’s challenges, they can also be helpful for dealing with the small, everyday stresses that you may experience.

Learn To Meditate

Many people find that meditation is an effective form of stress management. While some people connect meditation with certain types of religion, it can also be used in a completely secular way. Commonly used to help with stress and anxiety, there are several different types of meditation that you can participate in—each with the basic principles of needing to be in a quiet location, using deep breathing techniques, being comfortable, and learning to focus your attention. When you are meditating, you are working to be in the present moment while allowing yourself to experience your feelings and thoughts without judging them. As thoughts enter your mind, you simply let them pass through without attaching emotion to them or judging the emotions that you do feel.

If you are new to the idea of meditation, there are many different free apps that you can use to get started. These apps include guided meditations so you can simply press play and get started once you’re in a quiet setting. Practicing meditation on a regular basis when going through life’s challenges may be able to help you learn how to cope with the stress and difficult emotions that you may be experiencing.

Focus On Self-Care

When you’re going through a difficult time in life, it’s easy to lose focus on taking care of yourself. You may get caught up in the stress of the situation, or there may be more demands placed on your time and energy. When this happens, it can become harder to prioritize the time that you spent doing things for self-care because it feels like there are too many other things happening.

This can include things such as getting enough sleep at night or staying properly nourished. High levels of stress can cause things such as insomnia and changes in appetite. You may not feel hungry, which can make it easy to skip meals. Or, you may struggle to fall asleep so it feels easier to just try to stay awake.

At the moment, these things might seem easier but when you continue to skip meals or rest, it can take an impact on both your mental and physical health. It’s important to take care of yourself, especially when you’re going through challenges.

Self-care also includes activities such as journaling, exercising, spending time with friends, or reading. It’s about doing activities that help you to recharge and re-energize. The actual activities themselves may look different for each person. Finding what works for you can be helpful in learning how to cope with stress.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Another stress management strategy that may be helpful in your life is learning how to prioritize your tasks. Time management may become a problem if there are extra demands coming at you from every direction. And when you are struggling with stress, you may find that it’s difficult to stay on task and get things done. Because of this, it can be helpful to re-establish your priorities for the current situation.

For example, you may have been able to take on extra tasks such as baking cookies for the school bake sale in the past, but if you are going through a difficult health situation, it may not be wise of you to do right now. When you hit one of life’s challenges, it can be helpful to take time to sit and think through what your priorities are at that moment of your life. Then as new situations come up, you can see if they fit within your priorities before agreeing to participate in them.

You may find that it’s helpful to set some things aside until you’re able to have more control over your stress in a healthy way. This can help you to feel like you’re succeeding at the end of your day instead of constantly falling behind.

Connect With A Support System

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Having a strong support system can help you deal with stress in your life. While this may not be a stress management strategy, it’s important to have people that you can connect with and turn to during difficult times.

The American Psychological Association conducted a stress survey that found while the vast majority of people said they had someone that they could turn to for emotional support, 55% of them also said that they could have used more support when going through a difficult time.

You may have friends, family, and co-workers in your life that you know care about you. But that’s different than having a few trusted people that you know you can turn to in difficult times. That’s why it can be helpful to work on building a support system for your life even when you feel like things are going well at the moment.

Continue to connect with friends and family during this time instead of only expecting them to be there for you when things aren’t going well. Chances are good that if you don’t feel close to someone when things are going well, then you might not feel comfortable reaching out to them when you’re struggling.

While we may be able to connect easier with people online, it’s also helpful to have people that you can talk to face-to-face when you need to. But the most important thing is that you do have people you can turn to if you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions.

What To Do When You’re Struggling To Manage Stress

Sometimes life’s challenges can feel like more stress than you’re able to handle on your own. When you feel like this, it can be incredibly helpful to talk with a licensed therapist. Even when you have a support system that you can connect with, there are times when it’s helpful to talk with someone experienced in treating people struggling with things like stress and anxiety.

A licensed therapist can help you as you navigate through challenging times. They can assist you in learning coping strategies that you can apply in your life. While in-person sessions are certainly an option, online therapists like those at BetterHelp are available to help you cope with the stress that you’re facing.


Stress is a part of life, but it does not have to be something that has to linger and negatively impact your physical, mental, and emotional health. With the right resources and techniques, one can cope with stress before it becomes a problem. Through the process, they can develop a deeper understanding about themselves, and lead a healthier, more enjoyable life.

Below are commonly asked questions on this topic:

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