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Stress Management : How to Cope with your Life

Stress is part of everyone's life. The bills keep coming, there are not enough hours in the day, and daily life is demanding. When stress becomes overwhelming, you need to realize that you have more control than you think. The basis of stress management involves understanding that you're in control of your life. To manage stress, you need to take charge of your emotions, thoughts, schedule, and how you handle problems. Stress management begins with determining the sources of stress, which are not always obvious.

Stress Management : How to Cope with your Life

Identify Sources of Stress

In order to determine the sources of your stress, examine your attitude, habits, and excuses. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I think of my stress as temporary or permanent?

Do I accept stress as a normal part of home and work life?

Do I blame my stress on other situations, people, or things?

Do I view my stress as part of my personality?

Do I view my stress as unexceptional and normal?

Stress Management

Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Stress

Everyone copes with stress differently. To identify how you cope with stress, keep a stress journal. Write down how you feel, when stress occurs, and what you do during the stressful time. Coping strategies should be healthy, productive, and helpful. Examples of coping strategies that can cause damage include:


Drinking alcohol

Using illicit drugs



Sleeping too much

Withdrawing from family and friends


Angry outbursts and physical violence

The Four As of Stress Management

If your methods of stress management are injuring your physical or mental health, it's time to change to healthier options. The four As of stress management are: avoid, alter, adapt, and accept. No everyone responds to stress the same way, so experiment with these techniques to find which one suits you. To change the situation, you can avoid the stressor or alter it. To change how you react, you can adapt to the stressor or accept it.


No all stress is avoidable, and you can't avoid every situation. Therefore, avoidance is not applicable in every situation. Some ways to avoid stress include:

Say "no" – Learn how to tell others "no" and know your limits. If doing things for others adds stress into your life, refuse to accept added responsibilities and tasks. Don't take on more than you can accomplish in any given time frame.

Stay away from stressful people – Some personalities can add stress to your life. You can't change people, so limit the amount of time you spend with them. I

Control your environment – If possible, avoid all places and things that bring on stress. It could be traffic during rush hour, crowded events, or an unpleasant gathering. Take control of your environment so that you don't have to be around the stressor.

Limit tasks – Instead of adding to your "to do" list, pare it down if possible. Start the list with the most important tasks, being cautious of what is a "should" and what is a "must." Don't attempt tasks that are not necessary.


There are situations, people, places, and things that you can't avoid. If this is the case, attempt to alter them. Techniques for this include:

Compromising – Be willing to compromise with another person regarding the situation and ask them to do the same.

Express yourself – Instead of bottling up your feelings, express (in a nice way) how you feel. Communicate in a respectful and open way rather than voicing feelings of resentment and dislike.

Be assertive – Instead of being aggressive or passive, be assertive when dealing with stressful issues. Anticipate them so that you can prevent them.

Managing time – Putting things off will not make them go away. Inadequate time management can produce tons of stress. Plan ahead so that you don't overextend yourself.


When you can't change the stress, adapt to it. Healthy techniques for adaption include:

Looking at the big picture – Ask yourself how this will affect you in the future.

Adjust your standards – Don't try to be perfect because this will set you up for failure. Set reasonable standards for yourself.

Look at the problem in a positive light – Keep a positive perspective when dealing with a stressful situation.


When you can't avoid it, alter it, or adapt to it, then all that is left to do is to accept the stressor. Healthy management techniques include:

Look at the bright side – Instead of saying "poor me," understand that handling stressful situations adds to character and personal growth.

Share feelings with others – If you have a friend or counselor, talk about how you feel about stressful situations and people.

Learn to forgive – Because you can't change everyday life, and some things are beyond control, learn to let go and offer forgiveness to others. 

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