Coping with stress is something you can learn. When you break down something you want to learn into smaller pieces, you will see that the building blocks are skills. Skills are trainable. You can improve your own skills. You are not facing a black box anymore, as “coping with stress” might be. So once you know the skills that are required, you can start working on your goal. It is exciting, and it gives a certain responsibility. There is no reason to not do it any more. We share with you 11 stress management skills. When you put these coping skills for stress into practice, you will automatically see that you are better able to cope with stress in a healthy way.
A short summary of what stress is
What actually happens when you feel stress? Your body goes into physical stress mode because you perceive a threat or a challenge. Perhaps you make – unconsciously – the assessment that you cannot deliver what is asked from you. Or there is somehow a threat to your well-being.
Having stress is a very personal experience. You might be stressed out because of something, and another person really doesn’t care about the exact same situation. Because stress is such a highly personal and subjective experience, it means there is also a lot of room to influence and improve your stress perception. This is where the stress management skills appear in the whole stress story.
Negative stress has a major negative impact on your enjoyment of life. And chronic, so long lasting, stress is even harmful. To diminish the amount of negative stress in your life there are different ways to cope with stress, as you can read in our complete guide. For sure you need to know, need to train, and use the 11 stress management skills I am going to discuss now.
Stress management skill # 1 – Planning and looking ahead
Plan in such a way that you don’t get tied up in knots, with plenty of moments of rest and a pace that doesn’t stress you out. Keeping room to accommodate unexpected things. Anticipating what you’re going to find pleasurable by then.
And how about just planning less and spending the time that is freed up for relaxation. Seems clear anyway. Planning and looking ahead greatly can contribute to reducing stress and is a very important coping skill for stress.
Stress management skill # 2 – Saying no and firmness
Saying ‘no’ once in a while is good for less negative stress in your life. Not just pleasing people but choosing what works for you. This might lead to some backlash or you might have to disappoint people. But you stand firm and know why you are doing it.
In the long run, and probably much sooner, everyone gets used to how you do things now. So: learn to say “No” to reduce stress. And learn to handle your own emotions around ‘saying no’, to reduce stress. But you will after a little practice.
Stress management skill # 3 – Introspection, honesty and self-knowledge
This stress management skill is about getting to know yourself better and better by reflecting on what you are experiencing, examining your feelings and thoughts, and your own behaviors. I recommend also to face the sides of yourself that you may find less attractive.
You can live to uphold an image of yourself, to yourself and to others. You can also choose what really suits you. And surrender to all sides of yourself. Also the sides of yourself that at first glance are not your greatest buddy. They may even end up being the best in the future.
Introspection also allows you to discover more about who you are and what matters to you. What do you stand for? What are your values? When you know that about yourself, it’s easier to choose what to do. And also HOW you do it. You are less likely to become a plaything of external factors, because you have your own internal compass. And what is being a plaything by definition, at least for most of us? Right; stressful.
Coping skill for stress # 4 – Consciousness
Racing through life and never looking up. Are you really there? Are you just living in your mind and looking ahead? By gaining more consciousness you will immensely increase the value of your life. Not just checking to do boxes but experiencing life to the fullest.
Check in with yourself: what are you feeling? Observe what is there.
There is no other way to discover stress symptoms in an early stage. Because how can you notice something in your body when you are only thinking about the future and what has to be done?
With this conscious state of mind – state of being – you can also track down destructive thoughts early on. Destructive thoughts that are likely to trigger stress. This requires awareness at your side. Realize what is happening in this moment, and be as conscious as you can. This is not only a great stress management skill, but a great basis skill for all personal growth goals. You could check out this article if you like to know more about being present and the Practice of Mindfulness.
Coping skill for stress # 5 – Patience
Those in a hurry must stand still. Do you have the patience to not just run and fly but to be still with what is happening? Dealing with stress intelligently is something you do for a lifetime. And not something that is easily solved in a week. So that requires your patience.
Coping with stress touches the foundation of who you are and how you are put together. It could well be that you may step into the same pit several times. It doesn’t matter, with patience and awareness you will get there. It is not about perfection but about progress.
Skill # 6 – Curiosity
To be curious to learn and find out things about yourself. Curiosity about yourself and the patterns you are in. Exploring an interesting and challenging personal situation or a pattern of stress. Looking in amazement at what is actually going on in all that stress and between the screaming hormones. Exploring yourself and interactions with an open mind and without judgment. Purely to learn.
The main questions here are always: what is going on? What can I learn from this?
If something is causing you a lot of stress, you can discuss it and try to influence that something changes. We recommend discussing matters in a proactive and non-aggressive way. Also called the A of Alter; it is one of the four impactful stress coping strategies (post coming SOON). Do that before you are high on emotion, because when wild emotions get involved things tend to get messy.
You do that from ‘I’. With an ‘I’ message. So that it is easy for the other to receive your message. What you can address in this conversation: how do you experience something, and what does it do to you and how would it work better for you?
Stress management skill # 7 – Abstraction skills
When all sorts of things are going on, it helps to take off from the situation and look at what is happening from a distance, a higher level of abstraction. To step out of those intense feelings and those pronounced thoughts. Perhaps you will discover a common thread. Do the same themes happen to be present in different situations in which you experience stress? Taking distance from your personal experience is necessary to discover your stress triggers.
In Coping with Stress – the big Guide you can read a lot about how you can use your knowledge about your personal stress triggers and personal sensitive themes to reduce and prevent stress.
Stress management skill # 8 – Courage
It takes courage to look honestly at yourself. Looking at emotions or thoughts that feel intense or exciting or unwanted also takes a lot of courage. You need courage to change things. And possibly to say no and to disappoint people – or yourself. (Post about courage to be published SOON).
Coping skill for stress # 9 – Openness
If you like to reduce your stress, you need to be open to wanting to change something. But also be open to exploring your feelings and thoughts. Maybe those are even in a black box that hasn’t been open before in your life. Always be kind and gentle with yourself while observing your emotions. At least try to be.
Stress management skill # 10 – Letting go
Reducing stress in your life, might require saying goodbye to something that may have become part of you or part of your identity.
This stress management skill is also about accepting a situation that gives you stress. When you can’t change anything, reducing your stress level requires accepting and thus letting go. It is good the way it is.
Letting go to move with the stress response in your body and not resisting it is going to help you experience less hindering stress in your life. It is an interesting paradox; by accepting the stress as it is you automatically reduce stress. “Surrender to let go”
Did you know that Acceptance is stress coping strategy #3 of the amazing stress coping strategies “the 4 A’s” (post coming SOON)?
Coping skill for stress # 11 – Discipline
Last but not least, you need stress management skill Discipline. The discipline to choose almost always what is good for you in the long-term. The discipline to every time again do the right thing in case of stress: examine your stress, breathing well, reflecting on what can be done differently. Also the discipline to keep on remembering these lessons about stress and coping with stress. But also other personal growth lessons you have encountered.
It might not be a sexy word, “discipline”, but I believe discipline is at the root of a happy and (mentally) healthy life. To always choose what is fun or looks comfortable to you is not the smartest sustainable choice. It is also about training yourself, learning and finding what is good for you. Really good for you, not just this hour.
Building in stress management techniques in your life that work for you, and keep the level of negative stress and chronic stress very low, is also a product of discipline. Every time again you should return to the 11 stress management skills in this blog. And put them to work.
More about Coping with Stress
Keep on strengthening these stress management skills, and I am quite sure you will develop a better relation with stress in your life!
Are you curious to learn more about the interesting topic of coping with stress?
We have much more for you!
- Coping with stress – the big guide
- Positive and negative stress: how to know the difference and turn negative stress into positive stress
- Tips how to handle stress – strengthening your Coping Ability
- Tips how to reduce stress and external pressure (coming SOON)
When you visit this page, you can browse all our Personal Growth angles and pick your own Personal Growth starting point. Enjoy!