You feel stressed, nervous, tired, have a headache and you may not even remember when you felt really well. Chronic stress has taken your joy of life bit by bit. Hasn’t it? Then it’s a good thing you’re reading this article. Advice like meditation or nature walks won’t help you much if chronic stress is the problem. Together, we’ll look at the problem in context and show you how to get rid of stress using proven coping strategies – stress management techniques.

First of all, find the source of the stress

The way out of the spiral of stress starts with finding its source. Right now, you’ll probably quickly think that the problem may be a job or a divorce. That’s too general. We need to find the specific source that triggers the stress response and take an honest look at your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that may be feeding the stress.

How do you do that? Start a stress journal. It will help you find your daily stressors and become aware of how you react to them. Whenever you feel stressed, write a note in your journal:

  • What caused this stressful situation?
  • How do I feel physically and mentally?
  • How did I react to this situation?
  • What did I do to make myself feel better?

You may find that you are stressed about a certain type of task at work or presenting a presentation to management. Maybe you’re nodding off on tasks that are outside your job description, even though you can barely keep up. Or maybe the morning traffic regularly drives you crazy every day, and then one thing goes with another.


Let go of unhealthy coping strategies

How do you cope with such stressful situations? We all slowly develop our own coping strategies since childhood. Some people want to rip the band-aid off quickly and jump straight into the solution. Others choose to run away and don’t want to face the problem. Often we slip into unhealthy habits that can send us into an even bigger spiral of stress.

That’s why we included the last two questions in the stress diary: how you reacted and what you did to feel better. That way you can easily see if it’s time to get rid of some of these unhealthy coping strategies that are doing you more harm than good:

  • Eating stress with junk food.
  • Smoking, alcohol and other drugs.
  • Taking your stress out on others (most often your team or family).
  • Sitting in front of the TV or phone for a long period of time.
  • Procrastination and finding any other activities to avoid facing problems and responsibilities.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family because you don’t have the mood or energy for them.

How to get rid of stress for real – coping strategies that work

Now you know what specifically stresses you out. But what to do about it? Sleeping more and going for walks in the woods will only help you partially. You need to change the way you look at the problem and how you react to it. That’s why you need to work with the stress triggers first. The concept of the four methods of stress management, the 4 A’s of stress management, works great:

  1. Avoid 
  2. Alter 
  3. Adapt 
  4. Accept

Let’s look at which method to choose and when to use it.

1. Avoid

Think about whether you can avoid some stress triggers altogether. Sometimes we don’t see the way out, even though it exists. Often it means stepping out of your comfort zone.

You can stop meeting with some of the people who cause you stress. Sometimes you need to learn to let go of control and start delegating work. Some tasks just need to be taken off the table altogether. Try to be creative and write down all possible solutions, even if they seem like too big of a step right now.


2. Alter

Some stressors are unavoidable. But we can change the way we react to them and keep stress levels to a minimum. For example:

  • Talk about your feelings and don’t let them bubble up inside – tell your boss it’s too much and you need help.
  • Make compromises – if family get-togethers are stressing you out, go to them later and stay only a short time.
  • Learn to be assertive – don’t be afraid to say NO when YES would mean you’re going against yourself.

If you feel like you’re always running late and overwhelmed, you’ll definitely find the article How to organise your time so you can finally take a breathe useful.

3. Adapt

If you can’t do anything about the stressor, you can adapt. What might that look like?

  • If you’re always trying to be perfect, lower your standards. It’s okay not to be 100% at all times. In some situations, it’s even a waste of time.
  • If public speaking stresses you out but you can’t avoid it at work, sign up for a presentation skills course. With your new skills, you’ll gain more confidence and the stress will fade.
  • If traffic jams are driving you crazy every day, find a way how to use the most out of this time. For example, you can listen to an educational podcast and learn a whole new skill while you travel.

Also, try to look at stressful situations with more distance and think about whether they will still be important in two or five years. You may have important exams ahead of you, but if you fail, you can re-take them in three months. Sometimes it helps to imagine the worst-case scenario. You might find that you can actually do it anyway.


4. Accept

Some situations are really challenging. For example, when someone close to us dies, we become seriously ill or someone leaves us. Acceptance is hard, but in the long run it’s still easier than struggling with a situation we can’t change.

  • Therefore, do not try to gain control of a situation in which you have no power.
  • Learn to forgive and work with the sadness, anger or pain that is holding you down.
  • Try to find opportunities in every situation to move on and be stronger.

And above all, don’t be afraid to seek help. You don’t have to do it alone. A professional (psycho)therapist will listen to you and help you find a way out, whatever your situation is. At Hedepy, you can choose from over 160 verified therapists and join therapy from anywhere online. You can have an appointment in just a few days. See how online therapy on Hedepy works >>

How to manage chronic stress and crisis situations

When you know exactly what your stress triggers are and how to work with those triggers, you’re halfway there. You’ll be able to tackle the root of the problem.

Then you can move on to other ways of working with stress:

  • Mindfulness a meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Walks in the nature
  • Less caffeine and sugar
  • Less screen time 
  • Quality time with family and friends
  • Quality sleep
  • Morning or evening rituals
  • Volunteering

In a crisis situation, such as the time before an exam or presentation, a short guided meditation or breathing exercise is great to calm you down. It will occupy your attention and put your body in a relaxing mode.

But the most effective is an outside helping hand, which will help you to navigate yourself around the situation and find a way out even when you can’t see it. Read how psychotherapy can help you with stress.

Don’t face it alone

Finally, we would like to tell you the last and most important thing. It is completely natural to experience a wave of emotions in a difficult situation. Every crisis has its beginning, but it also has its end. Yours too. Therefore, if you are at least considering it even a tiny bit, ask for the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or coach. Don’t face it alone; you can find help – At, there are more than 30 therapists. You can choose someone who is best suited to your needs, and make an appointment for the next day. You can then connect with the therapist online, from the comfort of your own home.

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