How to cope with stress

Challenges are all too often a part of life, yet stress can be managed effectively with the right coping tools. Find the tools that work for you, with exercises and techniques that you can practise anywhere and at any time.

Finding useful strategies

By choosing coping strategies before we need them, we can stay mentally and emotionally healthy in times of stress. Helpful stress relievers can include sports, relaxation exercises and talking to trusted friends or health professionals. Strategies that could be unhelpful in the long term include avoiding a problem, blaming yourself or using drugs or alcohol to cope.

1. Distract yourself

Forgetting about a troubling thought may only help for a while, but distraction can be a useful way to reduce stress. Try any fun activity such as gardening, yoga, listening to music or even having a comforting bath. Creative hobbies, such as painting, crafts or writing, can also have the benefit of boosting your confidence.

2. Confide in someone

Sharing a problem with a trusted person may help you gain perspective and think more positively about the future. This person may help you solve your problem, and they may even have experienced the same issue themselves.

3. Accept uncertainty

Worrying about a problem will rarely change the future. It is more likely to make you panic and avoid making decisions. Instead, try focussing on the present moment in quiet surroundings. Try the following:
• Notice your thoughts and sensations at this exact time.
• Release any need for future control in these thoughts. You can tell yourself “I am letting go of any need for certainty”.
• Examine your thoughts fully without judging yourself or trying to change them. Imagine these thoughts passing by like clouds. Return to the present, and focus on your breath, surroundings or a task.

4. Practice breathing

Stress can make us hyperventilate, which can lead to tiredness, dizziness and confusion. Controlling your breathing is a useful skill that you can practise every day.
• Begin in a comfortable, stress-free situation, sitting or lying down and complete the 2:1 breathing technique.

• Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds.
• Breathe out through your nose for 6 seconds

5.Carry a coping card

Write a coping statement on a handy card, to help you manage troubling thoughts. Think of any positive words that you can repeat to yourself, such as “I am working towards my goals,” or “I know my potential”. Make sure your statement relates to the present and is something you can believe in.