3 Ways to Cope With Stressful Situations

When you get a flat tire or a deadline is around the corner, how do you respond? Whether you're suffering from long term or low-grade stress it takes a serious toll on your body and mind, so don't ignore those feelings of constant tension. Try to understand what is happening inside your body and learn these simple coping skills to help fight the negative impacts of everyday stressors. 

Let’s touch base on a topic many of you are familiar with fight or flight. The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to flight or flee. The physiological responses associated with fight or flight can play an important role in surviving truly threatening situations. However, many patients suffering from anxiety disorders or other conditions may have threat systems  which have become overactive. Many of those who suffer from anxiety will benefit from a deeper understanding of the fight or flight response. 

If you're unsure your stress is having an impact on your everyday life here are some symptoms you can go through to help you determine if you need to contact a doctor. 

  • Having prolonged periods of poor sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Constant anger and irritability 
  • Feelings of isolation or withdrawal

To ensure your stress isn't controlling you or situations you encounter yourself in here are 3 different ways to help cope with stressful situations.

1. Understand the situation. 

Take some time to think about the situation you're encountering. Try to describe your situation in a sentence or two. 

For example: I had to move away for university. I will be in a new city, new people, and far from my family. The stressful parts are not knowing anyone, missing my old friends and my family.

Notice and name the feelings you have about the situation. Accept what you are feeling. Understand that it is okay to feel the way you do, given your situation. 

For example: I feel lonely and sad because I miss my old friends and my family. I'm worried I won't be able to handle living on my own and keeping up with university. I feel left out because I don't know anyone here. I guess anyone would feel this way if they were in my situation. 

2. Commit to a positive attitude.

A positive attitude helps stop you from being dragged down by unhappy feelings. A positive attitude also boosts the problem solving that a stressful situation requires. Helping you see the possibilities within a situation rather than narrowing down our view. 

Don't dwell on the negative. Don't get stuck dwelling on negative feelings. Your power lies in how you react and cope with the situation you're facing. Be aware of any negative thoughts and replace them with encouraging words. 

For example: Everyone was once new at this university and they have made it to the following year. I know I can manage this. 

Practice gratitude. Be sure to notice some positive things in your life too. Yes, even now. Each day, think of three things you’re grateful for. Gratitude (link our previous blog) helps fuel a positive attitude and keeps problems in perspective. 

3. Take action.

 Decide what is in your control. Figure out what parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. Think of actions you can take to improve any part of your stressful situation.

For example: I’ll attend the university fair next week. This way I'll be able to meet new people and help make new friends. Help distract my attention away.

Get support. Find someone who you can talk about your situation with. Ask for help or advice. Talk to people who believe in you, cheer you up, and make you feel good about yourself. Sometimes just a listening ear helps a lot. 

Care for yourself. Take good care of yourself when stress in your life is high. Be sure to eat nutritious foods and minimize junk food. Get daily exercise and sleep. Do something everyday that helps you relax- whether that's meditation, a soothing bath, reading a book, cooking, or taking a walk. 

Stressful situations can test our strength, for sure. Focus your efforts on what you can influence , get support, and care for yourself. All these things can help you cope with your stressful situation.

Book a call with our Wellness Coordinator to learn more