How Do You Cope With Stress?

Anxiety. Panic sets in, and tension headaches overpower your brain. You toss and turn at night, sleeping maybe 45 minutes total. You clench your teeth throughout the day because your entire body is tense. This is your body under stress.

We’ve all been there, and for millions of reasons. The reasons don’t matter because our bodies all react in similar ways in response to stressful situations. The way we cope with anxiety is how we eliminate, or at least manage, that stress.

Everyone deals with stress in their own way. As long as you find healthy coping mechanisms that works for you, then stick with it.

I have found a few ways to manage my stress, and so far they have worked for me:

  1. Tea. Lots of it. Usually with lemon and honey.
  2. Yoga. Namaste. Meditation and breathing exercises are crucial for managing my stress.
  3. The occasional vent. Sometimes a girl just has to vent to a friend about what’s going on.
  4. A television show, movie, or standup comedy. I need something to keep my mind distracted, so watching something funny or lighthearted helps me. My favorite guilty pleasure show: Sex and the City.
  5. Writing about my stress. Once I get what’s in my head down on paper, I feel a miniscule weight of stress lifted off my tired shoulders.
  6. Walking out in the fresh air. Seriously, being outside is relaxing, especially when I’m stressed out. It calms my mind.

It’s taken me some time to find what works for me. Also, it can be tricky to deal with the stress right away. At times, anxiety can be overwhelming, and we have to remind ourselves to manage it, cope with it, and breathe.

When you’re stressed out, how do you cope?





  1. Great ideas but I think I went a bit overboard after 48 years living on the East coast…I moved into the wilderness of Alaska’s North country…no phone, TV, electricity or running water…but after 18 years here I am quite stress free.

  2. How do I respond to stress? I sit it out and focus on bodily feelings. The trap, I think, is to respond in thought to these feelings, thereby the whole thing self-perpetuates; the feelings feed off the thoughts and they in turn respond in a circular fashion. So I find it works to create a psychological ‘distance’ between an apparent witness (a detached awareness) and the twin phenomena of feeling and associated thought, with the attention being directed primarily on feelings.

    All best wishes.


    1. Interesting perspective. I also notice that feelings feed off of thoughts. I notice that when I’m stressed, my thoughts become more negative, and it’s hard to distance oneself from those thoughts.

  3. I’ve got one for you, and, possibly, Freud. Just this week I went to Oklahoma to visit my mother in memory care…needless to say, she’s not doing well at all. Right before the trip I think I had a panic attack. I’m not really sure that’s what it was, but the night before my butt ass early flight I felt a twinge in my calf and thought I was going to have another debilitating charlie horse, so that I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day. Then I freaked out. I mean freaked. I couldn’t breathe, my whole body went tense and everywhere I had these crazy spasms. I kept yelling at myself, “Don’t do this, no, no, you HAVE TO GO.” My husband was running around trying to get me the heating pad and eventually I took a muscle relaxer and crashed. I woke up feeling wobbly and weak, then got on the plane and sort of dreamed my way through it. I saw my mother, saw that my brother had been overly optimistic about her health because I had suggested that she stop dialysis and he and all my siblings were against that. The next morning I woke up and faced the moral dilemma that’s been sitting around in my subconscious for quite some time, but which came to fruition when I saw her. I’m the healthcare POA (and a little aside here, if you want to avoid stress, avoid being a POA!) and it’s really not a democracy. I had to do it alone. And I knew I was the only one who would give the issue thought. All morning I chastised myself for being unable to solve this problem—I’m a philosopher! I should be able to do this. I tried to just think it through, but that didn’t work. I just bawled my eyes out and criticized myself. So finally I made myself sit down at my word processor and wrote, wrote, wrote…everything. I started with, “What makes a life worth living?” (And it’s not the unexamined life, in my opinion, otherwise we ought to have a significantly smaller population). And went on from there using the best objectivity I could muster to organize and evaluate the situation. I came to a conclusion that I think is not optimal, but given what I have to work with, at least I can say that I’ve given it my best efforts. This process of working through writing worked. I don’t feel stressed at all now. I feel sad about my mother’s state, but I don’t feel this oppressive guilt and knee-jerk reaction to duck to avoid the shit hitting the fan.

    So how to avoid stress? Face it. Usually that stress is coming from your own perspective on your life. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and think it through as objectively as possible, to try to imagine that you are a very rational friend talking to yourself and giving yourself advice.

    Or you could just surround yourself with really reliable friends. That would probably work too, as you’ve pointed out!

    1. I’m so sorry hear about your mother. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

      That does sound like you had a panic attack. I haven’t had one quite full-blown like that, but I think I’ve been on the brink of one a couple times in my life.

      The idea of “working through writing” is so vital to daily life as a writer, especially when we’re dealing with stress. For me, writing every day has been a hobby for most of my life, but in times of stress, it becomes vital. I need to write to make it through tough times. To understand my life.

      I like the idea you talked about of taking a step back and giving ourselves advice. It’s important for us to learn how we can healthfully face our stress and manage it. I think writing is my way of giving myself advice. It’s my form of therapy. 🙂

      1. Yes, therapy and also truth discovery! It’s hard to hang onto ideas that go floating through our heads, but making them concrete allows us to see them all at once and with more clarity.

        Enjoying your blog and your comments, by the way. Looking forward to hearing more of you!

      2. Well said! Making them concrete is what helps us face our stresses in life and gives us more self awareness.

        Thank you so much! Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s always appreciated. 🙂

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