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Effective Ways of Coping with Stress

effective ways to cope with stress

Stress is a natural and normal emotion and there are many effective ways of coping with it. Feelings of stress generally develop when our demands outweigh our resources. That is, when we’ve got too much on our plate and we don’t feel we have what we need to address it. Modern life has many stressors, from work to finances to balancing friends and family. Add that onto the uncertainty of living through a global pandemic!

However, chronic or excessive stress can actually hinder our performance and affect our mood, physical health and relationships.

Firstly, it can be helpful to work out what is making us stressed. Then you can find active and effective ways to cope with this stress.

Two Very Different Ways of Coping with Stress

Many of us will have our own unique ways of dealing with stress, but it’s important to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful coping styles. These are also called active and passive coping.

Active coping involves proactively doing something to directly solve a problem. For example, getting extra help, or supporting yourself through a difficult time.

Passive coping might make you feel better in the short-term, but doesn’t really do anything to address the problem. For example, procrastinating, hoping a problem will just improve with time, worrying about a problem without taking any action or ‘numbing’ yourself through drinking too much, comfort eating, or substance abuse.

Some Effective Ways to Deal with Stress

There are many simple ways you can manage and cope with stress. Most of these techniques can be incorporated into your daily routine. 


Relaxation strategies can counteract some of the physical and cognitive impacts of stress, like irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating. These strategies can include deep breathing, physical exercise such as yoga or tai chi, self-care activities such as massage or simply scheduling things you enjoy into your daily routine.

Problem Solving

Stress is often the result of feeling like we’ve got more problems than we can handle. Activities such as journaling can help us problem solve; by giving us clarity and perspective, and clearing our minds.

Although not every problem will have a solution, using structured problem solving tends to make us feel empowered and in control, rather than overwhelmed.


Sometimes, stress is caused by the past or the future. We tend to ruminate about things we could have done differently or worry about things that might happen later. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is focusing on the here-and-now in an open-minded and non-judgemental manner. It helps us focus on the present, on what we can control, and helps promote self-compassion to counteract our negative thinking.

Mindfulness practice can range from using a few mindfulness-based strategies every day, to completing a mindfulness-based therapy course, to practicing a mindful lifestyle.


Physical exercise is just as good for your mental health as it is for your heart. Even just a simple 20-minute stroll around the block can help clear your mind and reduce stress. The key is regular cardio exercise that gets your heart rate up. And preferably something that you enjoy doing!

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Although stress is not a mental health disorder, those dealing with a significant amount of stress may benefit from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). CBT aims to help people address and cope with stressors that can’t be changed, and challenges unhelpful thoughts or behaviours that might worsen feelings of stress and anxiety.

Check out our free CBT-based course, Coping With Stress. 

Interested in learning more?

Free Online Tools for Coping with COVID-19

Access a suite of practical workbooks, an audioguide, and other useful materials to help you manage coronavirus stress and anxiety.

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