By HappyLady
5 years ago

Dealing with Stress

Stress can kill. Who hasn’t read that at some time, somewhere? It’s true. People die of it. For that reason, stress has a bad name. Whoever we are, whatever we do, we all have to learn to manage our stress levels. however, it is not always bad.

There is both positive and negative stress affecting our lives. The positive kind pushes us to get things done, to work and study hard. We need that. The negative takes over when we become worried and anxious about our lives and is the focus of this article in which I will be talking about ways of dealing with negative stress.

We all cope with stress differently

Everyone is different. We respond to the same situations according to our personality and background. What works for one person will not always work for another.

There is no magic formula that deals with everyone’s stress. I cannot live in your head, feeling what you feel and you cannot live in mine. That means we must each work out what helps us keep calm when life becomes difficult and we feel anxious and afraid.

See dealing with stress as a life skill

Therefore we must understand that learning to deal with stress is a life skill. Ths is not a gift from heaven, but a practical tool we can use to make life better in its harder moments.

It is important we do so because it is possible to end up in hospital with all the symptoms of a major illness as a result of stress. I know because this happened to me.

During my divorce, I had all the signs of a heart attack, but investigations showed that there was nothing wrong. The temptation, when this happens is to rely on medication to solve the problem.

Many doctors will prescribe medication if you are stressed, but this is not a cure. It won't take the cause of your problems away.

Medication may not solve the problem

Even if you take medication, the way this interacts with the mind and body varies from individual. This is why it is so hard for people who are mentally ill to find the right dosage to alleviate the problem. The medication always needs fine tuning.

Self medication to alleviate stress is dangerous

Even where prescribed medication is used, many people find ways to self medicate. These can add to the problem.

Getting drunk may be a temporary relief, but it could lead to becoming an alcoholic. Taking drugs can result in drug addiction and spending money in severe debt.

Self-medication often increases, rather than decreases the stress in your life.

Stress usually means we add more to the load

When we are stressed, we are prone to making poor decisions that cause extra worry. We will leave the housework undone, buy expensive take-aways and erode the household budget, forget important appointment or birthdays and so on/ The smaller everyday stresses are often what robs of of our ability to cope with larger issues.

Learn to save energy

These things contribute to how we feel inside. They steal our energy. We don't just cope with a big problem, but a myriad of smaller ones that eat away our strength. If we can reduce the smaller issues, then it will leave us energy to deal with the major problems in our life.

Know stressor priorities

Life is never going to be straightforward and lacking in stress and there are different kinds to deal with. Getting to work on time can be stressful but that is not in the same league as a marriage break up. Having an argument with a friend is different from having an argument with a boss and losing your job.

Some things are repairable but others are not and have ongoing consequences. Make it a priority to fix the things you can.

Control the things you can

Know your stress levels and manage the things that are within your control. Managing these leaves you head space for dealing with your larger problems.

For example, You can work out a strategy for getting to work on time or getting an assignment finished, or for getting the kids to school. However, you cannot change whether your parents have dementia or immediately put a failing marriage to rights.

Here is my own blueprint for minimizing stress. I make lists. I work out what I can deal with quickly, and work on those things. There is great therapeutic quality in ticking off things on a list.

Assess your situation

Think through the situations that cause you stress and work out a strategy to reduce every area of life where it is possible to do so. That way you energies can go into coping with the larger problems in life. Divide the types of stress into different headings and make a list for each.

Stresses I can deal with today
Stresses I can deal with this week
Big problems that are stressing me
Things I cannot change that stress me

Next, I work on one immediate problem. I find the one that is most pressing and work on solving that. Instead of approaching things head on I break that problem down into a list of smaller things to do. I begin with my first list as those things are the easiest to deal with. At one time my list read:

1. Get out of bed.
2. Get washed
3. Get dressed
4. Eat breakfast
5. Go for a walk.

I was so stressed it was hard to get up in the morning! Ticking things off on my list helped me a great deal as it soon became:

1. Wash up ten things
2. Put ten things away
3. Phone someone
4. Write an email
6. Put washing in the washing machine.

That made it easier to clear my head and work on the trickier problems like calling the school or the lawyer. This might seem simple, but it helped me retain head space at a very difficult time.

Develop harmless strategies to help you through stressful times

Finally, develop a set of harmless strategies you can use when life gets really difficult. In the rest of this article, I am going to show you my own ways of coping. You may like to try them and see if they work for you.

Find the things that help to calm you down.

The warm bath

I once arrived at a friend’s house in a state of agitation. She did the best thing ever. Instead of talking about my problems, she ran me a hot bath!
Then she put me in a bed with a hot drink. I slept.
There is nothing wrong in taking six hot baths a day if it helps.

Following that experience, if I am really stressed I take a hot bath if I can.

Try herbal teas
Chamomile tea is excellent for soothing the nerves. It is worth exploring which herbs work for you.

Burn essential oils

Even the act of preparing a herbal tea or getting an oil burner set up can help calm you. Lighting an oil burner has a therapeutic feeling to it. There are a number of oils with great properties for relieving stress.

Rose oil is a good choice. It smells good and acts as an anti-depressant too. Ylang Ylang is great if you are feeling angry and frustrated.

It is worth experimenting to see which oil works best for you. As with prescribed medication, we all work slightly differently so how an oil affects one person won’t be exactly the same as for another. Here is a list of the oils best known for helping with stress issues.

Rose oil
Ylang Ylang

Other ways to use oils to relieve stress

You can use the oils many different ways. It is even possible to carry a small bottle around with you to sniff when you are feeling stressed. Add a few drops to your bath or your unscented shower oil. Candles scented with essential oils also help.

The herbs that calm you

Keep these herbs in tea or tablet form in your cupboard if you can.
Chamomile, Passion flower, Kava Kava, Liquorice root, St John’s Wort and Lavender

Keep stress relieving plants

Get to know the power of plants. Keeping up a large garden won’t destress you unless you like gardening, but you might manage a plant or two in a pot.


Are all good choices. It is easy to get the first three as they may be sold in your local supermarket.

Learn to breathe

I learned this technique years ago. Take a very large breath and slowly count backwards from 20 or higher if you can. For some reason, it relieves stressful feelings.

Use head massage

By this, I don’t mean go and pay someone to do it. Simply run your own hands repeatedly from the front of your forehead over your hair to the back of your head. Keep doing it. It can be remarkably soothing.

Watch or use waves

Find a repeated motion picture of waves or a CD of them. Listening to and watching them is extremely calming.


No! Not about what is stressing you. Get a piece of paper and see what comes. If it is a repeated set of full stops, so what? Your aim is not to compose a masterpiece, it is to calm yourself down!

Again, this is about an action, not a completed work to hang on a wall. Moving a paintbrush backwards and forwards over paper is surprisingly soothing.

Use music
Solomon in the Bible would call for David to play music to calm him. Keep some music espescially for stressful times.

A happy place

Walking in a beautiful place can be helpful. Find somewhere nearby.

Skip! Run, walk, hop, jog

There are times when as a stressed person you do not want to leave the house, but exercise is good for relieving stress. Keep a skipping rope or a hula hoop handy. You can also dance unseen

Stone therapy

Go to the sea. Pick up stones. Name each stone with one of your problems and hurl it into the sea.

There are, of course, many other suggestions I can make, but I hope what I have written so far will help those of you who suffer from stress and anxiety to bring your stress levels right down. I know my ideas work. The other day one of my children informed me I never get stressed or anxious at all. This was high praise for someone who used to be known to live in a state of high anxiety. I am living proof you can become free of the wrong kind of stress,

5 years
Mohrem Hallo HappyLady, great post! We all have different levels of stress everyday so that was a brilliant topic to deal with. Your tips to reducing stress make sense and I would just like to add something to it. Time. Letting time pass over things we have no control over tends to heal our souls. The death of a loved one, divorce, working through getting an addiction among other problems sometimes requires that we just give ourselves time and aim to seek positive distractions and gradually things get better!
5 years
5 years
HappyLady Thank you for commenting and your kind words. It is great to hear your additions.
5 years
4 years
averygirl72 Thank you for this article. I'm having a lot of stress in my life lately. Thanks for all the information
4 years