How Do You Cope with the Stress in Your Life?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

One of the toughest challenges of this journey we call life is dealing with those issues that are not within our control. This year has certainly been one of those years. Not only has the economic situation hit close to home, but recently hearing news of friends and family members fighting for their lives has certainly caused me to step back and re-examine where I am at this point in my life.

While we canít control many of the events in our lives, we do hold the power in how we deal and react to these stressors. We have the choice to let the stress control us or we can learn ways of helping us control the stress.

The sense of helplessness is certainly at the top of many of our lists of stressors. But there are ways that can help us through these obstacles. Below are a few measures I have incorporated into my life to help make the transition a little less stressful. I hope they will help you as well.

  • Have a plan: Planning is crucial for me in order to get through these tough times. Making a list of things to do and accomplish each day gives me a sense of control. Checking these items off my list at the end of the day allows me to experience a sense of achievement.

  • Take time to breathe: Deep breathing has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and helps our bodies to relax. Just taking a few deep breaths can help calm our emotions and bring us back to center.

  • Allow yourself time to go through the emotions, but donít allow these emotions to define you: Suppressing emotions will not and does not change the situation. Sooner or later we must come to terms with where we are. Being angry or sad doesnít change our situation but allowing ourselves time to go through the emotions is what will eventually allow us to release them.

  • Use these events as an opportunity to learn: I believe every obstacle that is thrown in our path is the greatest opportunity to learn about who we are truly meant to be. When we are never faced with obstacles then how do we change the path which we are on? This is how we grow into the people we are meant to be.

  • Lean on others: So many of us, me included, shun help because we don't want others to view us as weak. But the older I get the more willing I am to allow my friends and family to hold my hand and walk this journey with me. Life is too short to have to walk it alone.

  • Enjoy the moment: For the past few months I have been setting aside a few minutes every morning to make a promise to myself that I will find one good thing to be thankful for each and every day. It doesnít have to be grandioseóeven the simple things in life such a friendly smile or a beautiful song can bring us great comfort.

    These are just a few ways I am learning to deal with the stress in my life. One of my all-time favorite inspirational quotes reads:

    "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    This quote embodies the true essence of not allowing stress in our lives to define us, but instead allows us to define who we are by surviving the challenges in our lives.

    How do you deal with stress in your life? What measures do you find are most helpful?

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    • 122
      I have struggled over the years with stress. I have found myself many times in my life doing things and wondering why on earth I am doing them, why I'm reacting that way. I have discovered that my body just does not cope with stress and so now, I must actively work to keep my life stress free (or stress as low as possible). It is a difficult task - but in terms of general health & well-being, weight, emotions etc, it seems to be the most rewarding task!

      Thank you for this article and I hope to see many more on the same topic. - 3/16/2009   12:50:29 AM
      I have to say this is a great one for me at the moment as I buckled yet again under stress this past week and went back to my old unhealthy eating habits. I don't know how many times this has happened to me over the last several years.

      I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. I have taken some of them to heart and will try them out to see if they work for me.

      - 3/16/2009   12:13:27 AM
      At the end of the day my husband asks my daughter,,,,,,"What was the best thing about your day,, and "What was the worst thing about your day" this helps my daughter to voice what good and not so good things that she has had to deal with - 3/15/2009   11:17:12 PM
    • 119
      I set a goal of a hiking and/or biking trip every 3 or 4 months. It gives me something to look forward too and just knowing that the trip is coming up, helps ease what stress I may have. I have a hike, coming up the end of April, on a trail that "Outside Magazine" says is one of the top 50 hikes in the U.S.. I do alot of hiking and biking in between trips and that helps also! - 3/15/2009   11:04:33 PM
    • 118
      I am not good at stress, I let stuff build up ny ignoring it... But I always feel better after exercising, either by taking my dog forna walk, or going for run . And sometimes quite time help - 3/15/2009   11:00:37 PM
      Some times it helps to talk to a person on the outside looking in.(a friend) Its nice to cry on someones shoulder. I'm a very emotional person and very sensitive. I like hanging out with my grandkids or walking my dog. I like being by myself too. Getting on the sparkpeople website helps me alot. I own my own business and with the economy like it is its been pretty rough.
      We were hoping for the first of the year to be better for us. A tragedy happened on January 6th that changed all our lives and we may lose our license and if we do we lose everything. This is our life and the tragedy was not our fault, one of our managers made the wrong decision that cost someone else their life. Which she will go to jail for a very long time at 24 yrs old. So my life is pretty stressful. But what helps me get through is I think I'll be able to have a normal life if we lose our license, if there are any jobs out there. Just pulling my 8 hrs and going home to my boyfriend and enjoying the evening. This may be a blessing in disguise. - 3/15/2009   10:33:40 PM
    • 116
      Give the stressful situation over to Jesus through works great as long as I dont pick it back up when I am done praying....I have to leave it at the foot of the cross. Prayer works wonders! - 3/15/2009   9:22:56 PM
    • TITANIA111
      we all needed this! It depends on what kind of stress I am under. If I am angry or frustrated I will go for a run or do some kickboxing. If I am emotionally distraught I will meditate if at all possible outdoors. Away from people, tv's, phones, computers... etc. Works for me. :o) - 3/15/2009   7:08:43 PM
    • 114
      First on my list is to spend some real time with God. Really get to know Him better.

      Then there is stuff like, change what I can. Get my hair cut or colored. Declutter my house, my life.

      Then, take a walk with my dogs. spend times with friends, read a book (a great way to take a vacation without spending any money)

      And last but not least, reach out to others who are hurting even more. Volunteer, visit with a shut in,or take a meal to a single mom. There are always others who need to be loved on - 3/15/2009   6:52:15 PM
      For me I deal with stress in a variety of different ways. Probably because some things just aren't enough. lol I sing, sleep, work out, do deep breathing, and I also pray.

      I agree that organization and being prepared for the moments when you will be stressed can help a great deal. I'm not always good at it, but I have a few ways that I always stay prepared since I previously had a problem with anxiety attacks.

      One of the things I joke around with my coworkers about is that I have three 'happy places' that I go to. If one doesn't work, then I will go to another one. I will visualize myself in a field full of wild flowers in the mountain, or I visualize Ireland with the wind blowing, or the beaches of Hawaii. I guess throughout the whole process, eventually something usually works! - 3/15/2009   6:41:54 PM
      I get into a cleaning frenzy. Most of my stress is because I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. In an odd sort of way, I'm not only working off my stress, I'm eliminating some of the things that cause me stress. - 3/15/2009   6:31:48 PM
    • PJC1967
      I take a long bubble bath and light some candles and just relax and since I started Spark one of the group leaders told me to pick up a pencil and write in a journal and I have been doing this every day now for about two months it works. - 3/15/2009   6:03:01 PM
      This is sooo helpful because knowing you are all out there helps me with my stress. Knowing I am not alone in this life and hearing that we are excercizing and loving our friends and pets and praying makes me happy!! I know I can't control everything and that is what i am working on, realizing that there are people and things I can't control and then realizing what I can do and knowing God's love is soooo real, that he will guide me.
      I can depend on him to bring the answers I need to my dilemma's all I have to do is ask.
      Recently I started weightlifting and it
      is really helpful in releasing good chemicals that make me feel better and walking, etc. helps so much too and taking break from the stress, by leaving it where it belongs,,like when I am at home I don't think about work. Don't worry or fret it only makes you feel worse, instead trust that you are loved by God. His love is real. - 3/15/2009   6:02:17 PM
    • 109
      Stress is a very difficult thing for many people to deal with. Some are able to use exercise to deal with the stress. I find a good walk out of doors is a great stress reliever. Having someone to listen to my rants is also a good reliever. Unfortunately, it must be someone willing to listen not someone who thinks they need to fix the problem. Having friends I can talk to helps as well. At these times of maximum stress with the economy and all that is going on, it is important to find a way to relieve our stress. - 3/15/2009   5:58:40 PM
    • 108
      I really liked this blog - very constructive. Thank you very much! One more thing that helps me prevent stress besides planning is, not PROCRASTINATING! Once you are faced with stress that is not preventable, like work place stress with a mean boss, etc. yoga, walk, exercise and other relaxation techniques may come in handy just as others have mentioned. Changing our attitude towards stress and life in general surely helps me too. Eg asking myself questions like:
      How important is it?
      What will be the worst outcome of this situation?
      Preparedness with good planning is extremely important in reducing stress! - 3/15/2009   5:25:46 PM
    • 107
      I do many things to relieve stress such as yoga, walk, take a bath, pray, laugh at the situation and make it feel lighter. Mostly walk it off. - 3/15/2009   4:48:28 PM
    • 106
      Turning to God, centering my life around church, are the two main ways that I control stress. I do yard work, which is a great stress reliever, write poetry, journal, and read. - 3/15/2009   4:14:26 PM
    • 105
      I deal with stress by talking a walk, doing my exercises, or just reading a book. This helps me calm down to better handle the difficult tasks of my daily life. - 3/15/2009   4:12:13 PM
    • 104
      My husband just retired so the stress can sneak up on me at times. So I close my eyes and imagine myself in a quiet place, usually alone on a beach, and pray. Through God all things are possible. - 3/15/2009   3:55:43 PM
    • 103
      I pray when I feel stress. I also do deep breathing. Yoga also helps me. - 3/15/2009   3:09:33 PM
      Read and think about something inspiring to you. Everyone has "bad" stuff they can dwell on if they pick to do so--but on purpose pick not to. The "bad stuff" will keep and balancing out the stressful with the peaceful, uplifting, good stuff helps in the long run. Makes you put your troubles in perspective and help create better sleep, mood, and relationships. - 3/15/2009   2:37:07 PM
    • 101
      How do I deal?
      Prayer, exercise, and calling a friend. - 3/15/2009   2:26:56 PM
    • 100
      I don't deal with stress very well. My tendency has always been to drink alcohol. The main cause of my stress is financial. I have over-stretched myself with a huge mortgage and my car insurance is sky-high due to several accidents in the last few years. I am 20K in credit card debt and it keeps rising because I don't take home enough money to pay all the bills. It is extremely stressful. So what do I do, I go spend more money by going to the bar where I feel I can escape from real life. Not good. Exercising more has helped a lot but most of the time I feel like I can't breathe. - 3/15/2009   2:25:55 PM
      mediating for 10 minutes and day a doing five minutes of breathing exercises has greatly reduced my stress level. Here is a website with some great quick meditations
      - 3/15/2009   2:22:40 PM
      The way I deal with stress depends on my mood, the stressor, the current situation(s), etc. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I go for a walk or do some other type of exercise. Other times I will go for a drive. Talking to others, listening to music and writing things down in a journal are other ways I deal with stress. - 3/15/2009   2:17:26 PM
    • 97
      MEME2YA, I hope that everything goes well for you. Try not to stress, because that will be hard on your body. *hugs

      I have anxiety, and I get really bad panic attacks. I have to say that this article is spot on. I tell myself to breath a lot, and if I find myself in a situation that is triggering my anxiety, I take note of it and try my best to remove myself from that situation... and then I slowly try to expose myself to it. When I was younger I would always get panicy in the mall, so I would go in and walk around (window shop, heh) for as long as I could and when I felt the anxiety getting worse I would leave.

      Sometimes when you feel like you can't escape it physically, escape it mentally by thinking of things that naturally calm you down... like being in a hot bath, or being with a loved one. - 3/15/2009   2:01:04 PM
    • 96
      Thank you...
      Your words gave me comfort this morning. I am facing a breast biopsy this coming week and am seeking inner strength. - 3/15/2009   1:20:27 PM
    • 95
      I ask myself, what is the worst thing bothering me?

      Then take some action to improve that situation. I may only be able to make a tiny change in that situation, but it will shift my entire mood.
      - 3/15/2009   1:11:31 PM
    • GERTP1
      I just give any & every problem to God, asking Him to show me the solution I need to follow. Never fails (of course!) - 3/15/2009   1:06:58 PM
    • 93
      I remove myself from it by focusing on peaceful things like, music, writing, being with family or friends and simply thinking about all the positive things in life.

      - 3/15/2009   12:55:22 PM
      I thought I was dealing with all the stress factors in my life well: codepent wife, raising kids by myself through the codependency, moving on with divorce, moving to a condo...and then I found out that even though I thought I was doing well, my body was saying differently. My blood pressure was sky high and I didn't even know it. How scary is that? So now I'm on Sparkpeople losing weight and doing Qigong for stress relief. I just find it incredible that even though I thought that some things aren't bothering me that it could be lingering in my mind causing stress after all. - 3/15/2009   12:45:10 PM
    • 91
      I spend time with my dog and enjoy his unconditional love. - 3/15/2009   12:37:59 PM
    • 90
      Perfect timing for me. Just this morning I was talking to my hubby about feeling stress about our upcoming move. I needed to talk about my feelings and express my source of stress which is lack of control. I have some health issues which limit my ability to participate and accomplish tasks involved in a household move. I have a hernia that needs surgery to repair, I am in the process of losing weight before the surgery will be approved. These issues are not causing me stress, as I have found success and support and motivation with my Spark Family. I have lost 20 pounds, so I feel in control and successful in this arena. However, when it comes to moving, I am feeling out of control. We did have a good talk and I felt better. Then I came to Spark and the first email I opened was this Blog, I couldn't wait to read it and I am thankful for the tips to remember to
      1. Breath: DO MORE OFTEN!!
      2. Allow Emotions
      3. Lean on Others: this has been tuff for me, I always thought I could do it all. I like the thought life is too short to do it alone. It is more fun to share with someone.
      4. Enjoy the Moment: Good reminder, it is easy to get busy and forget the joy of the moment.

      5. YES, Exercise has been a tremendous help to me. That is how I have been able to be successful so far and believe that exercise will keep me moving in the right direction.

      Thanks for sharing and listening. Paula - 3/15/2009   12:29:33 PM
    • 89
      I had my share of stress this week. Pay cut, bills, you know the general crisis stuff. I decided to not let it interfere with my healthy lifestyle and instead of eating I ran and ran and walked and walked. And trust me, my worries went away!
      Things can get bad but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. In order to make it all the way to the light, I need to be confident that things are going to be just fine! - 3/15/2009   12:24:17 PM
      Reading the Bible, praying, getting as much info as I can about the situation, talking to family and friends, petting my critters.

      This is timely because two days ago I was diagnosed with a stomach tumor which will need surgery soon! - 3/15/2009   11:59:16 AM
    • 87
      I'm not good at dealing with emotions and stress. Yeah, explains the weight problem. :)

      These are great suggestions - I've also found that making sure I get enough intense, sweaty exercise helps me to take control of my emotions and my stresses! :)

      Hope the tough times move past swiftly!
      - 3/15/2009   11:30:42 AM
    • MINHUS
      Exercise is really helping me (previously I NEVER exercised). If I'm really stressed I do cardio then some yoga, which really helps me to relax.

      I also find watching my favorite chick flicks therapeutic. :) - 3/15/2009   11:27:55 AM
    • 85
      unfortunatley stress sometimes gets the best of me.......still working on that one - 3/15/2009   11:15:40 AM
    • 84
      I too find it helpful to talk to a friend or someone else close to me. And exercise is the best stress reliever of all! - 3/15/2009   11:01:04 AM
    • 83
      I find a quiet place and try to read and get my focus on prayer or a good book. that usually does it. Sometimes even going shopping with a family or friend to get my mind on other things helps too!! - 3/15/2009   11:00:35 AM
    • CYND59
      What Stress....LOL!
      Exercise really helps. I am currently reading the book "Calm My Anxious Heart"
      and trying to learn to let God help me handle whatever life brings my way! - 3/15/2009   10:35:29 AM
    • 81
      I was really able to relate to your article. Prayer is my main source of stress relief . Reading the comments show how we all have things in our lives to deal with that are NOT pleasant. Thank you for your thoughts. - 3/15/2009   10:30:22 AM
      Exercise and venting to my workout buddy always make me feel better.

      Taking control and changing what I can. Accepting what I can't change. I'm still working on the wisdom to know the difference. - 3/15/2009   10:29:08 AM
    • 25OPTIMIZE
      I loved your blog Nancy, and also all the comments that have been following it. I'm also a "sleep it off" person, and in times of stress try to make sure I can at minimum follow a solid sleep schedule. It just makes things work so much better for me than if I don't get enough sleep.

      Something else I tend to do, is to take my cardio from very active (running, biking) to more "quiet" forms of cardio (yoga, walking). I seem to find myself better able to reflect on things. - 3/15/2009   10:26:28 AM
    • CLAWW855
      I have found that there are many weapons in our arsenals to fight stress and anxiety. Laughter is one of the best, usually with friends. Focusing on helping someone else works, too. Music is great, I like to get in the car, crank it up, and just drive, (singing along makes it even better). Also, I am lucky enough to live near my grandchildren. Hugging a child can be the best therapy!! - 3/15/2009   10:21:57 AM
    • 77
      When I am most stressed, I go to bed and "sleep it off." I handle everything better when I'm well rested. - 3/15/2009   10:00:41 AM
      I know that exercise is the best medicine in the world for stress. I remember the days when I could go to jazzercise 3 times a week got off all meds, and didnt even have to watch what I ate cause I burned it all off. - 3/15/2009   9:52:14 AM
    • 75
      I do a lot of the same things when I'm stressed out... I live from my daily planner (this actually prevents the stress from stemming at all from bills that need to be paid, people I need to call, & gym days)... I also spend my lunch breaks at work at the local park reading a book. I listen to music at my desk at work to keep my nerves calm (this works sometimes)... and when I've had a very stressful day, I end it in the gym working off my anger/stress. - 3/15/2009   9:12:55 AM
    • 74
      I am not real good with the stress thing. I guess having a plan would make things easier. I tend to dwell on the worst aspects and not look at the positives of the situation. I am having one of those times right now and I think I will re-examine my approach. I will try ot pull out the positives. - 3/15/2009   9:05:40 AM
    • 73
      I find that praying is a great way to get rid of stress. I love to run a hot bath and soak in BeautiControl Detoxifing bath soak and pray. IT does a body good. - 3/15/2009   8:39:04 AM

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