How stress is not going to bother you anymore – coping with stress the smart way

A short and long term recipe to reduce stress in your life

Do you actually know what happens to you when you are stressed? You are hijacked by the emotional part of your brain. It’s as if you are only allowed to use 1 of the operating systems of your plane. Gone is the logical operating system. Your emotions take over. And all kinds of new physical sensations are added: your heart rate is higher, more blood goes to your organs and brain, hormones are rushing through your body. Coping with stress the smart way (scroll down to find out what that looks like) enables you to even become friends with these sensations of stress. And there are several ways to turn these difficult stress feelings around.   

Stress feels like you need to run even harder but we recommend sitting down and being still for a while. Let the worst of the storm pass and cool down. It is possible to use the sensations to your own advantage, we tell you how. The situation is much less dire than the hijackers might make you believe. (Unless you are being chased by a malicious person, because then: thank your cortisol boost later and run!)

This is what you gain from reading this article about Coping with Stress

Stress is something you’ll encounter in your life anyway, and long-term stress is harmful, so you’d better learn to deal with it effectively from now on. Moreover, your “coping with stress” skills will lead to great improvements in many other areas of your life. You can also learn to use your stress optimally, as stress certainly has its benefits. 

Experiencing a lot of (negative) stress ruins a lot of things, which is a shame and unnecessary. In this article we give you the best tips: to deal with acute stress, how to reduce stress, smart coping with stress strategies, but also for a smart basic attitude for a life with especially pleasant and meaningful tension and relaxation. The latter means smart coping with stress in the long term. For all this it is necessary to understand what stress exactly is. We explain this to you in a clear and simple way.  

What to expect in this blog

Understanding stress

What is stress? 

Stress is a physical response to external stimuli. The situation or environment is found challenging in some way. And the physical reaction; stress, is the result. 

It means that your body is getting ready for what is to come. After all, a challenge is presenting itself; there is pressure from the environment. Do you go for “fight or flight”? For both, you need to be able to gather quite a bit of energy from nowhere.     

Usually when we and people talk about stress, we mean negative stress. We don’t experience it as pleasant or useful anymore. But are bothered by the sensations and feel that we want rest. But stress has its uses, and is also not harmful if it is short and temporary.  

Is stress (un)desirable?

Stress is essentially neutral. It is a description of a physical reaction, with advantages and disadvantages. The word can also refer to positive stress. But mostly we don’t use the word stress for that. For example, stress is also the excitement and adrenaline we feel before a cool event. A sporting event, a trip you’ve been looking forward to for a long time, a fantastic party. Most will enjoy this, especially in a culture where we embrace high intensity emotions. But would we also call it stress? “I have stress.” Probably not. But it is.  

Often when we talk about stress, we are talking about a feeling we would rather not have. Although stress in itself is not wrong, because the physical reaction helps you perform. 

There is one type of stress that is always undesirable. Even though you may experience it as positive. And that is long-term stress, also known as chronic stress. Chronic stress means that the body’s stress state persists for a long time, leading to physical damage. For a healthy balance, relaxation is always needed after a short period of stress. 

Stress response – Stress is a physical reaction

The physical reaction stress involves the release of doses of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. The physical reaction makes it possible to act quickly but at the same time at the expense of well-considered action. Your sensory functions are also sharper during stress and your memory of the events that led to the stress is better.

A stress response to a perceived pressure 

Stress arises in response to actual events and the environment, ánd your perception of them. 

It is an interaction between body and mind; emotions and thoughts; and you and the environment. 

Put two different people in the same situation and one person will experience (negative) stress and the other not at all. So stress is not so much about the actual event, but about the perception of it. Is there / are you experiencing a threat, challenge, are you bracing for something?  

One person experiences a lot of stress from a dog coming to the door when entering. Another sees a cute dog that makes him happy. So how you think about the situation you are encountering affects the degree to which you experience your stress.

Definition of stress

There are different definitions of stress and what it is. But in the essence they are similar. 

Very simply we can say about the definition of stress: 

Something in the environment causes a bodily reaction in which bodily processes are triggered through the nervous system and brain ( the so-called survival mode) and hormones are released that allow for quick action.  

That something in the environment is an external stimulus; a stressor. 

And that stressor can be anything! Of course, there are similarities in stressors. And there are also situations recognized as being stressful for everyone. Loud noise, for example, is one of them. 

The point of stress – benefits and risks  

Stress causes action and focus (benefit of stress)

Stress is not necessarily wrong. In fact, stress is at the root of many great and impactful events and accomplishments. The stress response in your body makes many things possible. It helps you focus on a task and provides extra energy. It also helps if you yourself are positive about that feeling of increased focus aka stress. Then you can use this special ‘body-mode’ to its full potential. 

Without stress mankind would not have come very far in its development. Stress helps you in challenging situations to give just that little extra. 

Stress is useful. However, it is important – and that’s how it used to be after hunting a mammoth, for example – that you have and find peace after stress. And that’s where it often goes wrong for modern man. Our body is not designed to be stressed for a long time.  

Negative stress or positive stress? 

Whether stress is negative or positive for you depends on several variables. And the existence of those variables means that there are many buttons you can push to turn negative stress into positive stress. That is great news! But one thing is for sure, long lasting stress is always harmful to your body, and therefore always is defined as negative stress.

Are you curious about what makes your stress sensation a positive thing, or a negative thing? Here you can read about your options for turning negative stress into positive stress, you can do a tiny test to test the negativity or positivity of your stress, and we explain the difference between positive stress and negative stress. Did you btw know there are two specific words to indicate negative stress and positive stress?     

You should avoid chronic stress

When the body is in stress mode for a long time and you cannot find relaxation, we speak of chronic stress. The body needs time between periods of stress to recover and replenish its resources. If it doesn’t get enough of a chance to do this, you become exhausted on several levels. Chronic stress is harmful to your health.  

So be warned if you experience stress too often and for too long in your life. Fortunately, there is much you can do to improve this. In this article, we provide many insights on how to deal with stress in your life in a healthy and effective way. Because stress is part of life! And fortunately also has many advantages. 

The stress balance: Demand versus Coping Ability

What constitutes stress can be expressed in a formula. 

On the one hand there is your capacity, your coping ability: to what extent are you capable of preventing stress and dealing with stress.

What your possibilities are to prevent stress and deal with it we will discuss later on in more detail with all kinds of effective tips.

Demand is about the tension that arises from demands, expectations and stimuli that come from your environment. 

Coping ability is about internal. Demand is about external.

But…

Stress experience is very personal

Again, we see that your perception and relativity play a very big role. This is about the phrase (in the definition of ‘demand’): ‘the tension that arises’. What kind of stress arises as a result of what external circumstances is highly personal. One person is not bothered by a motorist in traffic yelling at you, another is.

And it is also a part you can work on; where there is room for personal growth. For example, it may be that a certain comment from a person 5 years ago created negative tension in you, but now it leaves you neutral. As a result of the personal growth that you as a person have gone through. 

So therein lies your opportunity for less annoying stress, for personal growth, and a healthier and more positive life. 

The formula for stress 

In the modern age we live in, stress in many situations is about the person’s assessment of whether he can handle (coping ability) what is asked of him (demand). And thus threatens his or her well-being.   

And the “modern times” I contrast with how things were many years ago here. Then you got a tiger after you. That is a very different kind of situation that evokes stress in the body than the average situation now that evokes stress. A tiger chasing you is difficult to compare with stress at the office. Although there are also tigers there 😉 

Back to what stress is in a simple formula. You can express it as follows: 

Stress = demand > coping ability (stress occurs when the demand is greater than the coping ability).

Demand: what is asked of you (what is your perception of what is asked of you)

Coping capability: what can you handle (what is your estimation of what you can handle).

As long as your coping ability is greater than the demand, everything is balanced. Your capacity to deal with pressure / stress is greater than what is coming at you, and you are in a comfortable position. Stress occurs when the demand becomes greater than your coping ability. 

Stress triggers

There is always a trigger for stress. An event, circumstance or even thought that activates the stress system in your body. Stress triggers are very wide ranging.

It can be a particular task. Be noise. A thought that causes stress. A busy schedule. A fleeting comment made. Stress due to your own expectations or expectations of you that you think you see in someone else. Stress because you don’t see yourself as very capable.   

What is a stress trigger depends on you – your perspective determines. The trigger for stress itself is neutral. Your reaction, i.e. your perception of the trigger, determines whether you experience stress. What is a trigger for you may not even be apparent to someone else. 

Kinds of stress triggers

Stress triggers are classified into the following categories: 

  • crisis and catastrophe, such as a natural disaster
  • Major life events, such as marriage, death, birth, moving house, going to college for the first time, etc.
  • daily hassles, such as traffic jams, making decisions, meetings with annoying people
  • Ambient stressors, such as pollution, noise, crowds and traffic

New research shows that one of the following triggers is always at the root of a stress reaction: 

  • the situation is new
  • the situation is unexpected or unpredictable
  • your ego is threatened or affected in some way
  • a feeling of loss of control

On this website, you can do a fun test to discover which of the above 4 stress factors you are most susceptible to. To get stressed.

Universal stress triggers

Despite the fact that what causes stress depends greatly on a person’s internal experience, universal stress triggers can be distinguished. These are type of triggers that lead to stress in most people to a greater or lesser degree. Think persistent and intrusive noise, death of a loved one or a natural disaster. 

Frequently Asked Questions about stress and coping with stress

  1. What is the best definition of stress?  

In medicine, the body’s response to physical, mental, or emotional pressure. Stress causes chemical changes in the body that can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. It may also lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, or depression. (source definition of stress)

  1. Is stress a part of life? Stress is part of life to a greater or lesser extent. A stress-free life does not exist, nor is it even desirable. Thanks to stress you are ready to deal with challenges. Too much stress is not good. 
  1. When is stress unhealthy? Stress is unhealthy when it persists over a long period of time, and your body doesn’t settle down between periods of stress. Stress is also unhealthy when it leads to poor sleep, poor eating and unhealthy habits for a longer period of time.
  1. How do I know I have too much stress? You have too much stress when your stress lasts too long and is too intense. You can notice this for example by the fact that you sleep worse, eat badly (too little or too much) or have other stress symptoms. After a time of stress it is very important to relax and bring your body to rest. Stress can be recognized by stress-symptoms. It helps to learn to recognize your own stress symptoms, and to be alert to physical sensations.  
  1. Why do I have so much stress? There are many different answers to this. The answer to this question depends completely on your specific case. And I don’t know about that. Nevertheless, I will mention a whole series of possible answers to this question. And who knows, maybe you will recognize one or more answers that fit your case. Why do I have so much stress? 
  • Because I am in a situation that I experience as challenging
  • Because every body reacts differently to external pressure and has a different stress reaction
  • There are one or more life events in progress such as death, moving, saying goodbye, birth, etc.
  • Because there is a lot of noise or air pollution
  • Because you have a great need for control
  • Since from your perception there is a lot of tension, challenge or threat, partly depending on your beliefs and your glasses
  • Because I am a perfectionist and set the bar high
  • Because I do not face reality (enough) and do not accept and move with it (i.e. resist)
  • There are many new things at play
  • Because there is a lot of unpredictability
  • My ego / pride is (often) touched – I place self-esteem and self-worth outside of myself
  • Because I say ‘no’ too little
  • Because I tolerate the feeling of stress badly and think negatively about it
  • I am afraid of things which may come but are not there yet at all –
  • Because I judge a lot
  • I carry a lot of expectations.
  1. Why does stress feel so unpleasant? Your emotional operating system reigns, and your rational side is on the back burner. This feels wobblier than you’re used to, and different anyway. Your body is in action mode and has a strong focus. In stress response, some functions are turned down, like your digestion, and yet other functions get an extra boost (a higher heart rate). And you may find that annoying.
    • >> Try to perceive the sensations separately without judgment. Chances are it will feel less unpleasant. When you welcome the physical stress response as a mode that supports you in your performance, it may also feel less unpleasant. If you label stress as something negative it feels much more unpleasant than if you welcome it as a positive phenomenon. Experiment with that. One reason we feel stress as unpleasant is because that’s probably how we were taught.  
  1. Can I do something about stress? Yes absolutely! You can do a lot to reduce stress. Read this article about Coping with Stress for many useful tips. Both tips that you can use for acute stress. But also tips for a lifetime of smart ways to deal with stress in your life. 
  1. What can I do to reduce stress? Number one is always: breathe. Breathe deeply in and out. And three more times. Realize what’s happening. Examine where your stress is coming from. Don’t resist the sensations, or what is happening. Meditation and certain physical exercises help well with stress. And I could go on like this for a while. Read this stress blog for many useful tips to reduce stress and for good stress management. There are things you can do in case of acute stress. And smart structural improvements for long term stress management. All in this coping with stress blog!
  1. Do vitamins and supplements help to reduce stress? There are vitamins and supplements that help reduce stress. Vitamin b5, magnesium and ashwaganda are supplements that support stress relief, as has been shown in research. 

Coping with stress – this is how

Now that we know what stress is, and what triggers for stress are, we come to the most important part of all. Because: how should you deal with stress in your life? How do you get rid of that unhealthy stress? How can you cope with stress and reduce negative stress? And how can you even get ahead of the stress? 

Three elements are going to make the difference for you for less and healthier stress in your life. Namely:

1. RECOGNIZING STRESS

2. RESPONDING TO ACUTE STRESS

3. MAKE STRUCTURAL IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR LIFE FOR LESS STRESS

Step-by-step plan for coping with stress in your life

These elements just mentioned are three main pillars, but then you don’t know exactly how to get this done. By the way, by reading through this blog you will already come a long way! I like to make these main elements more concrete and that leads to the following step by step plan.  

Nine steps for smart stress management. These steps show you how to cope with stress. Step 1 should ideally always be on in the background, making step 2 possible.

This is the loop you can go through on a regular basis. First of all, to recognize stress signals early, and then to deal with stress and the the stress symptoms effectively. 

Here’s what you do in case of (acute) stress: 

recognizing stress

  1. be aware and check in with yourself regularly
  2. recognize stress symptoms
  3. realize what is going on: your body and brain are in stress mode and you are in defense mode. How you perceive the world and the situation now is not necessarily true. Your rational side is off and your emotions have taken over.  
  4. stop for a moment and examine your stress:
    1. what are your sensations?
    2. examine your thoughts about the situation
    3. what are your thoughts about your stress
    4. what processes are playing in you that are causing stress?

responding to stress (to reduce stress) 

  1. form a stress coping strategy. You can apply the 4 A’s to your stress situation. The 4 A’s are 4 possible types of reactions; 4 stress coping strategies that are to your disposal in a situation in which you experience stress. I explain the 4 A’s in more detail in a moment.  
  2. get to work in practice and thus respond to the stress with the best stress coping strategy or strategies. 
  3. In the meantime, also focus on breathing well and prefer to take a break rather than racing on. Recognize that your emotional rescue system is on and that it is better to focus on calming down, rather than chasing every wild thought or feeling. Also realize you could try to benefit from this physical stress response.  
  4. Keep checking in with your body to recognize sensations of stress. Did you manage to relieve your stress a bit? 

getting ahead of the stress – structural improvements to reduce stress the rest of your life

  1. pause regularly in your day to day life to look at the stress level in your life on a higher level and to be able to make structural improvements in relation to stress 
    1. Are you quite satisfied with how things are going or is there too much stress in your life? 
    2. Do you always build in enough rest to bring your body to relaxation in between stressful moments? 
    3. Can you apply the A of Avoid to reduce structural stress? Because even nicer than relieving stress is preventing (too much) stress.
    4. is there anything else you can do to increase your Coping Ability for structural improvements? 
    5. is there anything you can do to lighten the Demand for structural improvement? 

You can see the three pillars of coping with stress in the above steps. So the three pillars of coping with stress: 

  1. recognizing stress
  2. responding to stress (to reduce stress) 
  3. getting ahead of the stress – structural improvements to reduce stress the rest of your life

We will discuss them all, right now. We give you the best tools and insights for effective stress management and to reduce your stress. 

1. Recognizing stress

Recognizing stress symptoms

Everything hinges on recognizing your stress symptoms early on. And for that you need a certain degree of awareness. If you don’t feel what’s going on in your body, you can’t recognize stress. 

This is a list of symptoms of stress. They range from mild to strong. Anyway, it is helpful to know your own standard stress symptoms. I always feel stress in my shoulders. And feel tension around my mouth. So then I know what is going on.

This is how you recognize that you have stress, these are stress symptoms: 

  • headaches
  • tension in the jaw
  • tension or muscle pain in the neck or shoulders
  • fast and high breathing
  • stomach ache or digestion problems
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • palpitations
  • agitated feeling
  • dizziness

Recognize stress by recognizing and defining the situation 

There is another very clever way to learn to recognize your own stress quickly. In this way, you don’t react to certain symptoms in your body, such as a tight jaw. But you proactively identify certain themes in situations. 

For example, I know from myself that I find it very difficult to be ignored (the theme = being ignored) and that I get stressed out by it. The moment I raise an issue with my supervisor several times, but he or she does not respond, I know I need to be alert. This is a potential trigger to get stressed. After all, I respond sensitively to a feeling of being ignored. So even before I get a headache from the stress and recognize that, I can see the potential stress coming from afar. And I can try to deal with the situation effectively (choose a smart coping strategy) to prevent high and negative stress. 

Certain personal and sensitive themes are your red flags for stress

Do you know what I mean? You can identify certain themes or red flags for yourself. And when a theme applies to a daily situation, you’re warned. It’s not your stiff jaw or pain in the stomach that lets you know you’re stressed, but the red flag in the moment sends a signal. 

All you have to do is look at yourself very honestly and observe what kinds of situations put you in a state of alertness. Discover your themes in this and you can proactively steer towards less non-helpful stress in your life.

Once you have recognized a ‘dangerous’ theme in a real-life situation, you can apply all kinds of smart tips, which you will find in this blog, to deal smartly with the stressful situation.  Knowing what is happening and why, and seeing that coming, helps tremendously. The situation will still feel uncomfortable, but it may not need that extreme stress reaction.   

2. Responding to stress – coping with stress

(coping strategy definition) – The pattern of behavior you choose, in response to a situation involving a problem or challenge, is known as coping or coping strategy. 

You have recognized and acknowledged that you are experiencing some level of stress and that the situation or environment is challenging for you in some way. Well done! Now the question is how you are going to respond to this stress. In other words, what will your coping (strategy) be? 

Many people fall into a reflex automatically, an unconscious coping or response, which comes from what they are used to and how they have been programmed. Try becoming aware of your coping. And ask yourself, “What is effective in dealing with this issue?   

Side note about intense emotions

And please bear in mind. When you are calm, it seems easy to consciously choose behaviors and act accordingly. But if you are already feeling emotional because of stress, it is more challenging. Still, it can be done, and I recommend it. 

Stressing, rushing and sweating!? Sit back, breathe, and choose! Also download our anti-stress workbook (coming SOON) to get to know your own automatic behavior better and to improve your coping. You can get started right away. 

Coping strategies for stress

Do you know about yourself what your first inclination is in response to a problematic or challenging situation? Do you withdraw? Or do you sit down and sip? Do you perhaps get angry? Do you actively work to solve the problem? And do you do that alone or do you involve people? 

How you react to a problem situation is also called your coping strategy. It can vary from moment to moment, but you probably have a favorite (tendency).

A healthy coping strategy is highly situation dependent

Generally, an active approach is considered a smart coping strategy. 

Don’t avoid or ignore the problem. Or in other words, don’t run away from the problem or the unpleasant stress sensations. But confront it, and examine your stress. And in addition: seeking support for relief helps. 

What the best approach is depends completely on the situation. If you can’t do anything to influence the situation, an active approach will only lead to frustration and more stress. Because you are up against a wall. In that case simply accepting the situation is smarter and more stress-free. If you can’t influence anything at all, an active approach only increases your stress. And it is better to choose the path of moving with it and acceptance. And that will help you in the end reduce stress. 

Coping with stress #1 – Breathing as key in responding to stress 

The good news. Breathing. Helps. Always. Whatever the source of your stress. Whatever the desired coping strategy. Always focus on your breathing. It’s better to breathe first, than to shoot into the rushing and emotional action. Are you familiar with Box breathing? That’s a fantastically effective way of breathing and calming your body to become capable of responding effectively again in a short period of time. Invented in the military. And there, people often have a short time to drastically prepare themselves for an extreme situation. So box breathing. Check out this great little movie to practice and accompany your box breathing.  

Good breathing can be expanded with meditation techniques and yoga exercises. But always start with the breath first. 

Coping with stress #2 – Thinking more positively about stress helps reduce stress

You can also address your thoughts and perception of “stress.” Coping with stress in a smart way by changing the way you think about your stress. 

Not seeing the stress in your body as undesirable, but using and considering it positively, really makes a world of difference in how you experience it. Try it. And if the stress is short-lived, there is no problem physically either. Just make sure you have a rest later. Or in other words, are you making a certain conscious choice and so you should not label it negatively but completely resign yourself to how it works out? And is it perhaps also true that it is only short-lived stress and therefore no problem for your body and even has a number of advantages?

Example of changing the way you think about stress

So for example, you do choose the same day program with accompanying tension, but you choose to think differently about the physical stress response that comes with it. Where you would otherwise have labeled those physical sensations of stress negatively, you can now be open to really resigning yourself to your choice, and therefore to its consequences. Moreover, the physical stress response certainly has great benefits. It helps to focus and perform. So thinking more positively about your stress certainly is not a lie.  

Do make sure to really switch off regularly. In whatever scenario: for everyone, and regardless of what choice you make about the busyness of your program or the height of your sights and the perception of how things are going; regularly going into real rest mode is important. For your body and your mind. Continuously going in stress mode is overexploitation of your physical body.  

Coping with stress #3 – The 4 A’s to easily design a smart stress coping strategy

I’ve mentioned them before, the 4 A’s’ they are surprisingly simple and effective for coping with stress and reducing stress. They are 4 stress coping strategies that are always at your disposal. You can see them as 4 basic skills in dealing with stress. You can apply them anytime. They help you better understand your situation and make choices. The 4 A’s help you determine which stress coping strategy – or mix of strategies – is smartest. The 4 A’s help you deftly maneuver through a challenging task, day or week.  

This are the 4 A’s: 

  • Avoid
  • Alter
  • Accept
  • Adapt

The idea is to go down the A’s – the 4 stress coping strategies –  in descending order one by one. In a situation where you are experiencing stress and want to be clever about it. Starting with the top Avoid, and so you go down the row. 

These are the four stress coping strategies ‘the 4 A’s’; an excellent and simple tool to decide how to respond to a situation with stress: 

  1. Stress coping strategy Avoid – what not to do
  2. Strategy Alter – how to influence the situation to make it somehow more comfortable for you
  3. Stress coping strategy Accept – to accept what is not going to change
  4. Stress coping strategy Adapt – make the best out of what is

Check out in more depth what the four stress coping strategies involve and how they can help you immensely in shaping a great stress coping strategy.

Coping with stress #4 – The Circle of Influence as a brilliant model for less stress, by more focus

Are you familiar with Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence? It lets you see and decide in a powerful way (because: extremely simple, yet effective) what effective behavior is for you. It helps you make smart choices, things will go more easily and smoothly, and to reduce stress. This simple model also nicely summarizes the 4 A’s.    

It helps enormously in coping with stress, to distinguish – when faced with stimuli and challenges – between what you can influence and what you cannot. It helps you to choose how you can effectively deal with a situation. 

The key take away of the Circle of Influence to reduce stress

The clear message of the Circle of Influence: Try to focus on what you can influence. And try (in creative ways) to expand your ‘circle of influence’. All 4 of the A’s – Avoid, Alter, Accept, Adapt – link nicely to the Circle of Influence. Do you see it?  

Coping with stress
This model helps you to be ‘smart’, and focus on what you can do. And not on what you are concerned about.

We explain into more depth what the Circle of Influence entails and how to use the model in daily (stressful) situations. The #1 personal leadership model, for less stress, and it also shows you how to be more focused.

3. Getting ahead of the stress – structural improvements for stress relief the rest of your life

We have arrived at element 3 for proper stress management in your life. 

We’ve talked about Recognizing Stress, about how to best respond in the moment when stress occurs. And then we also have a more long-term approach to dealing with stress. The very best tips for structural improvements for less stress in your life I’m giving you right now here. 

Structural stress improvements #1 – Developing your Emotional Intelligence for coping with stress and to reduce stress

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your mood and emotions, to be aware of the moods and emotions of others and to use this awareness to guide your behavior.” (source)

Know yourself. Know the other. Live consciously. Anticipate. See some things coming and make smart choices about it. Developing your emotional intelligence helps you maneuver through life in a more balanced way. Read more about Emotional Intelligence on this Wikipedia Page.

Your “EQ” is, among other things, about dealing with your emotions. Do you let yourself be overwhelmed and are you completely carried away by what you feel, or do you manage to keep a little distance, observe the emotions and choose a certain reaction?

Stress expresses itself as emotion. When you have great stress, it feels very emotionally intense. Do you let yourself get carried away by the emotion river, or do you manage to sit down and take a deep breath? 

Structural stress improvements #2 – Knowing your stress triggers and anticipating them for less stress 

A very concrete way to develop your EQ – in the field of stress management – is by getting to know your ‘stress triggers’. In other words, what triggers the stress system in your body?’ 

  • Is it time pressure? 
  • Rudeness perhaps? 
  • Is it the indefinable feeling of having to do something new and not knowing exactly what to do? 
  • Is it experiencing high performance pressure? 
  • Not living up to expectations? 
  • Is it uncertainty? 
  • Something new
  • Has your pride been touched
  • Do you not have enough grip or control?
  • etc 
  • etc

If you know your personal triggers you can see stress triggers coming in advance and anticipate them. You increase your awareness of triggers and that alone increases your emotional intelligence. Increase your awareness and you automatically increase your EQ.

Discovering your own stress triggers

This is a great list of Harvard Business Review to get to know yourself and your stress triggers: 

  • It makes me angry when ___.
  • I become overwhelmed when ___.
  • I feel offended when ___.
  • At work I wish people would ___.
  • It makes me crazy when ___.
  • I think it’s rude to ___.
  • I get irritated when I come to work and ___.

(Source of discovering your stress triggers)

What triggers your stress? Is it the novelty of something, uncertainty, your pride being touched or a lack of control? This questionnaire helps you to understand what kind of things are stress factors for you.

Structural stress improvements #3 – How to handle stress > by strengthening your Coping Ability

I mentioned earlier that stress has two components. 

The Demand is what is being asked of you – in the super broad sense of the word – and the stress that this is creating. 

The Coping Ability: how big is your capacity to prevent stress and deal with it when it’s there?

You will probably notice in this definition that the coping with stress ability apparently can be trained. And that is good news. Here are 10 super tips to strengthen your coping ability. These are 10 tips that you can apply for less stress in your life, and for a healthier relationship with stress.   

  • > You can become more robust in dealing with stress
  • > You can make yourself stronger and more resilient with regard to stress management.
  • > Do all kinds of things to be smarter about dealing with stress.
  • > Check out online coaches who can help you learn how to deal with stress more firmly. 

How? You can read all about it in these 10 tips. 

10 Tips – ‘how do you handle stress and pressure’ – by strengthening your Coping Ability

Below is the summary of 10 super tips for dealing with stress. For more depth and explanation, also read our blog ‘10 tips on how to handle stress‘. 

Tip 1 – how to handle stress by increasing your Coping (with stress) Ability

> Be aware of yourself

Make sure you check in with yourself on a regular basis. Be conscious and notice how you feel and are. 

How else can you recognize you are having stress, when you are not aware of yourself? 

Tip 2 – how to handle stress by increasing your Coping Ability

> No rushing

You barely gain time, but you do gain a lot stress hormones, negativity and pressure. 

Tip 3 – how to handle stress by increasing your Coping Ability

> Try not to label situations and people as good or bad. 

Because the gap between the actual situation and the desired situation, as created by labeling it, causes pressure, and stress. A black and white world in which things are right or wrong, is stressful. As is negativity.    

Tip 4 – how to handle stress

> Nourishing your self love and confidence 

You will have a more positive view. Of your own possibilities, and of the circumstances. Which automatically leads to less stress. 

Tip 5 – how to handle stress

> Accept what is. And be open to accept. 

Because resistance is what causes most of the stress. Think back to a few recent situations where you were stressed. I bet you resisted in some way. 

Tip 6 – how to handle stress

> Exercising regularly and a proper diet

This is the basis for healthy coping with stress in your life and for a healthy body and mind.

Tip 7

> Sleep well

Long enough, regularly enough and well. An unstable sleeping pattern is linked to higher levels of cortisol. 

 Tip 8 – how to handle stress

> Start to think more positive about the stress you are experiencing

Why add an extra layer of stress and negativity on the stress that is already there? 

Tip 9

> A life style with regular relaxation

After each short period of stress, it is important to reduce the tension so that there is no chronic stress. Short-term stress can be used positively; long-term stress is never positive. And deserves your priority. 

Tip 10

> Discover your beliefs that actually create more stress in your life. And turn them around. 

It is easy to say; “make sure you check out your beliefs and find out what causes you more stress”. 

BUT.. We created something great to help you with this. It is our Anti-Stress Workbook. In a playful and simple we take you along in getting to know yourself and your stress mechanisms better. 

This is the comment of one of the grateful users: 

Review coming SOON

Examine your beliefs and your stress with the Anti-Stress Workbook

Examining your own beliefs, and also making them more constructive, is one of the most impactful things you can do for less negative stress in your life. Working with your beliefs is not only very valuable for stress management, but has a positive impact on all facets of your life. 

Fortunately, we have created the Anti-Stress Workbook. In a playful manner, beliefs are explained and you can get to work uncovering your own (coming SOON).

Structural stress improvements #4 – Get ahead of the stress by reducing the Demand with these 6 super tips

So you can make yourself more stress tolerant with the 10 tips mentioned above, but at the same time you can do all kinds of things to address the external demands. To reduce the external stress and pressure. I mean the stimuli from the environment that cause the tension. 

With these 6 super tips you reduce the (perceived) pressure of what everyone (including yourself) wants from you. 6 Tips to reduce the Demand, to reduce stress. 

I list the tips in a nutshell. And check out this post to read the tips to reduce stress and to reduce the pressure for less stress in more detail. With examples included.

6 super tips to reduce the Demand, and so to reduce stress 

Tip 1 – wanting less

Not having all those expectations and wishes, but just be satisfied, makes a big difference.

Tip 2 – adjust your goals

Less fast, less perfect? 

Tip 3 – just skip something

Especially the things that don’t really suit you(r longer term goals)

Tip 4 – at least you can influence the ‘How’

Influence the conditions of what is asked from you to your own benefit

Tip 5 – smart planning

Realistic, and including margins and breaks. And with room for the unexpected and spontaneous

Tip 6 – observe all elements

Peel off the pressure you feel, to discover which element in the black box is causing you to experience pressure. And then reconsider your perception of this element.    

Check out this blog, to learn more about how to reduce stress, and for an in depth explanation of these 6 tips to reduce stress and external pressure.    

Skills to cope with stress well

Coping with stress, handling stress well, can be learned. You can make yourself more stress resistant in various ways, you can reduce the pressure, and you can also train certain stress management skills for better handling of stress. The following stress management skills help you to reduce stress, and help you cope with stress in a sustainable manner.  

Check out the 11 coping skills for stress

If you score high on these 11 skills, you have an optimal basis for managing stress in your life. And the great thing is: all these skills can be developed as well. 

Which ones? We’ll tell you, these are 11 stress managements skills you need to have a lifelong good relationship with stress.  

Stress supplements to reduce stress

There are a few supplements that have been proven effective for reducing stress. Please note that these only support a proper attitude to life and lifestyle. Supplements never replace healthy eating, exercise and personal growth. However, they can be a nice addition in coping with stress. 

Supplements that help reduce stress are vitamin b5, magnesium and ashwaganda. 

Ashwagandha Organic powder to reduce stress:

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Stress relief products

All stress relief products encourage you to sit down, relax and take a deep breath. A beautiful coloring book can do that for you. A lovely scented candle can help you do that. The message is the same: stop running, relax, and breathe. That is the way to go in coping with stress. 

Here are some great products to help reduce stress. 

Coloring book with positive quotes: 

Stress reduction techniques

Breathing exercises for less stress, for coping with stress

Good, deep breathing is the natural medicine to calm your body – and mind – when you are experiencing stress. In this way it only takes a few minutes – or even seconds! – to reduce stress.  

Follow this video for five minutes and you’ll feel completely refreshed. 

Physical exercises to reduce stress

Physical exercise is key in coping with stress. Make your body move; regularly and in a relaxed way. Yoga is great for stress. Or rather, for less stress. Are you experiencing stress? Roll out your mat and do some yoga exercises. Tune in to yourself, and breathe deeply and consciously. Within no time, the initial stress will be gone.  

Personally, I am a big fan of the many yoga classes out there on youtube. In particular the one from Yoga with Adriene. She shows you physical exercises and does not skimp on spiritual wisdom. 

This is the link:  

But also walking is good for less stress. Walk slowly enough, because walking fast can perpetuate stress. Be aware of your steps, your surroundings and breathing. It’s not about reaching your goal or walking x kilometers or miles, walking is your goal. Enjoy!

Meditation for coping with stress

This is a fine meditation for less stress from Yoga with Adriene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CscxGprl1yw  

In conclusion, 5 pointers to a healthy life attitude for coping with stress

You can suck it all in, everything we have shared to deal with stress in your life in a smart and healthy way, and the tips for reducing stress. I would like to end with 5 statements. You can think of them as a kind of generic precepts. That help you lead a stable, happy, meaningful life with a healthy dose of stress every now and then. 

  1. Try to utilize short-term stress well, by focusing it on what you want to accomplish and also appreciating it positively. 
  2. Choose relaxation and rest after moments of tension
  3. Choose less quantity and more quality > check out our Living with Less stuff (less but better :))
  4. Rely on yourself from within, and reduce your dependence on outside appreciation and recognition. Living for external appreciation makes you a plaything and is stressful. An ego that can be easily hurt is also stressful. 
  5. Recognize where you have influence and where you don’t and act accordingly.

Reach out to us for an Anti-Stress personal breakthrough – A4 assignment

We can show you where your blind spot is. We will be honest and talk gently to you but with a clear message. Sometimes it is better to have an outsider look at your patterns, thoughts and goals, than do it all yourself. We can give the way you cope with stress a positive boost! And support you in other personal growth goals and life goals. 

Our aim is to have, and for you to have, a positive and healthy life attitude. No superficial tricks for us. But a long lasting and honest life attitude. We are happy to hear from you, and happy to enable you to make valuable improvements.

You give us input via a spoken message or in a short text; and we give you impactful feedback! That will accelerate your personal growth, and helps you cope with stress.     

More on different kinds of life struggles

Do you like to read more about life struggles and how to cope with them in an effective way? We serve you all kind of life struggles: struggling at work, struggling emotionally, personal struggle and of course the best tips how to deal with struggle. We see it as a challenge to turn struggle into a perfect struggle. And we are happy to share how that is possible.

The Power of Now as an antidote for stress

Check out all our content on the Power of Now as a great way to cope with stress. And living in the present moment has many more benefits. ‘Get out of your mind, and into your life’.

Used sources about coping with stress and reducing stress