Stress Management: Best Ways to Cope with Stress

Posted on Jun 23 2014 - 8:44pm by Demelza Young

Marriage, the death of a loved one, moving to a new city for college, illness, people-pleasing tendencies…what do these factors have in common?  Stress.  As I mentioned last time, stress can have either positive or negative results.  If you’re a perfectionist striving for that faultless ideal because you feel inadequate, you may find that exerting that constant pressure on yourself may eventually work against you.  However, you might be the kind of person who flourishes under pressure and instead experience a high degree of motivation and productivity that you might otherwise not achieve.  Regardless of your personality, stress is always going to be a part of your life.  It’s important to learn how to effectively manage it.

We experience stress when we do not meet the demands placed on ourselves with equally effective coping strategies.  The thing is, most people don’t generally plan how they respond to stress.  When was the last time you sat down and had a meeting with yourself about how you were going to handle things if your best friend got sick, your significant other broke up with you, or you found yourself stuck in traffic on the way to an important meeting?  If you’re like me, the answer is…never.  You kind of just tend to react without thinking.  But think about it now: what is your usual practice when it comes to stressful situations?  Do you avoid the situation, withdraw, confront it head on?  Possibly, it depends on the circumstances and the potential consequences. It’s easier to confront your sister about borrowing your clothes without asking than it is to confront your boss when she’s belittling you.

What is important to remember is that you have three choices when you experience stress—you can resist it, avoid it, or adapt to it.  Examine your past patterns of coping with stressful situations and consider whether you are pleased with your current strategy for stress management.

Negative Coping Mechanisms

Let’s take a look at some unhealthy ways in which people may react to stress.  Some negative stress management techniques include:

1. Drinking alcohol, smoking, or doing drugs.
2. Excessive worrying or imagining the worst outcome of the situation.
3. Over- or undereating.
4. Stubbornness/tantrums (such as yelling or pouting).
5. Withdrawing/keeping things to one’s self.

6. Denial of problems.

Positive Coping Mechanisms

Healthier coping mechanisms for stress include the following:
1. Eating a balanced and healthy diet.

– Sugar and processed foods can exacerbate stress.
2. Spending time alone.

– Listen to music or try reading, writing, or drawing.
3. Spending time with friends.

– Go shopping, play sports, or watch a movie.
4. Exercise regularly.

– Find something you’ll enjoy that will allow you to release tension, whether it’s stretching, yoga, or just taking a walk.
5. Treating yourself.

– Get a massage or a manicure, or have dinner at your favorite restaurant.
7. Getting enough rest.

– Aim for at least 7 hours per night.  Also ensure that you incorporate breaks into your day, even if it’s just a five minute stretching break once an hour during study time.  It’s important to rest both your eyes as well as your mind.
8. Seeking support.

– Choose someone you trust.  You might receive support from friends, family, or a professional.


The key is to figure out which stress management techniques work best for you.  You can manage your stress levels and help restore balance to your life by taking care of both your mind and body.  Need some more suggestions?  Consider the following, and try these 52 proven tips for stress relief from the Santa Clara University Wellness Center.

  • Prioritize your tasks and use “to-do” lists.
  • Learn deep breathing/relaxation techniques.
  • Pay attention to negative self-talk and change it into positive self-talk.
  • Meditate.
  • Practice saying “no” to situations and people that add stress to your life.
  • Laugh! Watch a comedy or find a funny video on YouTube.
  • Take time to have fun and enjoy your favorite hobbies.  It really helps to have something to look forward to.

Don’t wait until your stress causes serious disruption in your emotional, physical, academic and social lives.  Stress is cumulative, so pay attention to the red flags your body gives you (such as a nervous stomach, headaches, or a disrupted sleep pattern).  Once you’ve learned the proper warning signs, you’ll know when it’s time for you to slow down and de-stress.


Demelza Young is an alumni of Northern Kentucky University. She currently enjoys volunteering her time in her local community, reviewing online content with her cat, and sharing quality recipes.

18 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Greta garbo (debbie k) June 24, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

    i work full-time in a nursing home so death & depression is all around. Plus i am full-time wife/mom & grandmother. this article has some great ideas on how to relieve some of the stress i have. Thanks!

  2. Ariana Lau June 24, 2014 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I really like what ideas you have to relieve stress. We all get stressed out, it’s nice to know we aren’t always alone. It does happen to everybody.

  3. Sharon June 25, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    This was so helpful. I get so easily stressed all the time. I think I inherited that from my grandmother and father. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Terri S June 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    These are some great tips. I tend to worry a lot when stressful things come up. Thank you for sharing.

  5. tara pittman June 26, 2014 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    We need to take a deep breath when we stress. I like to go for a walk when I am stressed.

  6. Cindy McElwee June 27, 2014 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Great information. Really like Eating healthy & listen to music. I didn’t think they would make a difference. Will give a try . Thanks ♥

  7. Michelle S June 27, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I really like the list of both the negative and positive coping mechanisms! There are a lot of ideas to try to see what works for an individual.

  8. Heather Garcia June 28, 2014 at 3:04 am - Reply

    I am a 40 year old woman and I turn into a little kid whenever I need to stand up to my mom. Stress!!! And I react negatively to stress, I get angry and am very mean to my husband. I am going to try some of your tips for reacting positively to stress.

  9. Linda romer June 28, 2014 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I find it hard to deal with stress, sometimes I think I stress my self out by worrying about things I can’t control. The next time I feel stressed I will use some of your suggestions such as laughing more, I think I need more of that in my life.

  10. Audrey G June 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    I like the idea of getting a massage or mani/pedi. I am not very good with dealing with stress, but I’m pretty sure a massage would help!

  11. Dorothy Teel July 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Stress is a hard thing to deal with most people who are stressed deny it until it becomes severe, people need to take time out for themselves, do what they like, get up move around contact someone you have not talked to for a while, do not dwell on what is making you stressed always look on the bright side.

  12. faith July 3, 2014 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Love it! Thanks for the link to the 52 tips for stress relief – will share with my students and SURELY they can find a few that work for them 😉

  13. Kate F. July 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    This is a great list. Exercise and music help relieve my stress.

  14. Petra Jadan November 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this great article. I have always tell myself that I do not get stress because however, I do. Unconsciously we all get stressed and many do not know what to do.. Thanks

  15. Angela Thomas March 1, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the pointers! I tend to concentrate on what hasn’t been completed/done, rather than what has already been done and start stressing. A lot of times we just need to take a break and re-energize!

  16. Jerry Marquardt July 12, 2015 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks for these stress relieving methods. I would have never thought of these, so it is greatly appreciated.

  17. Jenna August 15, 2015 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Will have to put these mechanisms in action. I just started a new job and there is so much to learn!

  18. Rosie August 20, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

    These are healthy ways to help manage stress, and thanks for letting us know! I’d like to do a few of these on a regular basis!

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