These facts describe the importance of using a variety of strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, and explore how to cope effectively in the long term.
When finding strategies for dealing with anxiety and stress, it is important to remember that various coping mechanisms, including relaxation, can be helpful when used correctly.
BUT, over-using any one method for managing stress can become harmful over time.
Every coping strategy that you use has worked at some point, otherwise you would not have begun using it!
Facts About Coping
– No single coping strategy is going to be effective all the time; that’s why it is necessary to have a repertoire of stress relief techniques. When you have many possible coping techniques, you can draw upon several as needed to manage each stressful situation.
– The purpose of relaxation and other stress reduction techniques is coping with stress and anxiety in the moment, decrease the stress response, and induce the relaxation response. In this calm state, you will be able to think more clearly and solve problems more effectively.
The key to managing stress is to use this mental clarity to solve problems, rather than just distract yourself from problems. In other words, relaxation allows you to keep yourself mentally strong, physically and mentally healthy, and calm enough to deal with life’s stresses. You are not really coping with stress if you simply distract yourself and do not deal with situations.
– Sometimes coping strategies that are initially effective start to lose their effectiveness. This is perfectly normal. If a coping strategy stops working, this is a reminder to develop some more options.
– Methods of coping with stress can sometimes develop into unhealthy habits. What once was a stress reliever starts to become a stressor. Any one strategy, if used too much, can become stressful or an undesirable habit. For example, if you enjoy using exercise to cope with stress, physical activity can be very effective and healthy. If, however, you begin exercising in response to EVERY stressful event, and you start cutting out activities you used to enjoy in order to exercise, this coping strategy can start to get out of hand. What used to be stress relief becomes a force of its own. Most commonly, when we think about coping strategies that have become negative habits, we think about things like excessive shopping, alcohol, smoking, etc, but this example applies to any form of stress relief. Think about relaxation: if all you ever do is apply relaxation strategies, and you have no time to get anything else done, relaxation would no longer be healthy! Learn if your coping skills are healthy.
– It is important to continue to develop new means of coping. As discussed above, the more coping strategies you have, the greater the chance that you will be able to find a method that works for a particular stressor. Another bonus is that by trying new things, you continue to learn and keep life interesting! A new hobby can be an excellent way to relieve stress.
– Only you can decide what works best. Each of us is a unique person with our own individual responses to stress and our own ways of coping with stress and anxiety. Explore various strategies to find out which ones work for you. A strategy may be very effective for someone else, but not at all useful for you. Similarly, a coping strategy that did not work for you in the past may now be very effective in relieving your stress. Keep trying new ideas!
– RELAXATION is one of the most effective coping strategies. By using relaxation, you prepare yourself for handling stressful situations. You become more resilient, and better able to manage anxiety and stress in general. A variety of relaxation techniques are available, and there are sure to be some relaxation methods that you find helpful.
Some other examples of simple stress relief techniques include exercises, stretching, and stress balls.
Stress will always be around. The trick is finding at least two or three stress-busters you genuinely enjoy! Try a total body relaxation technique by my friend, Sukala, at Meditation Escape.