How to Cope with Stress?

There is no single formula can cover all cases of stress, some general guidelines can help all of us cope with the stress that is part of our lives.

According to Sacks (1993); Kaplan, Sallis, & Patterson, (1993); Bionna, (2006) following are the strategies to cope with stress.


1.Seek control over the situation producing the stress:-

Putting yourself in charge of a situation that is producing stress can take you a long way toward coping with it. For example, if you are feeling stress about an upcoming test, do something about it—such as starting to study.

2. Redefine “threat” as “challenge”:-

Changing the definition of a situation can make it seem less threatening. “Look for the silver lining” is not bad advice. For example, if you’re fired, look at it as an opportunity to get a new, and potentially better, job.

3. Find Social Support:

Almost any difficulty can be faced more easily with the help of others. Friends, family
members, and even telephone hotlines staffed by trained counselors can provide significant support. (NIMHANS is the first institute in India to start a helpline inclusively for Psychosocial support and mental health services during disasters. It is a 24 x 7 toll free helpline. During disasters, people from any part of India can call up at this number and avail psychosocial support and mental health services from mental health professionals. MINHANS Toll-free number: 080 – 4611 0007)

4. Use relaxation techniques:-

Reducing the physiological arousal brought about by stress can be a particularly effective way of coping with stress. A variety of techniques that produce relaxation, such as

  • Transcendental meditation,
  • Zen and
  • Yoga,
  • Progressive muscle relaxation, 
  • Hypnosis

Above tools have been shown to be effective in reducing stress. One technique that works particularly well was devised by physician Herbert Benson, which is at the end of article.

5. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle:– 

It will reinforce your body’s natural coping mechanisms.

  • Exercise,
  • Eat nutritiously,
  • Get enough sleep, 
  • Avoid or maintain your use of alcohol,
  • Avoid your use Tobacco or other drugs.

If all else fails, keep in mind that a life without any stress at all would be a dull one. Stress is a natural part of life, and successfully coping with it can be a gratifying experience.

How to Elicit the Relaxation Response to Stress

Some general advice on regular practice of the relaxation response:
1.  Try to find 10 to 20 minutes in your daily routine; before breakfast is a good time.

• Sit comfortably.
• For the period you will practice, try to arrange your life so you won’t have distractions. Turn off your Mobile.
• Time yourself by glancing periodically at a clock or watch (but don’t set an alarm). Commit yourself to a specific length of practice, and try to stick to it.

Herbert Benson (1993) gave one standard set of instructions to eliciting the relaxation response:

Step 1. Pick a focus word or short phrase that’s firmly rooted in your personal belief system. For example, a nonreligious individual might choose a neutral word like one or peace or love. A Hindu perosn can chose “OM”. A Christian person desiring to use a prayer could pick the opening words of Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd; a Jewish person could choose Shalom.
Step 2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
Step 3. Close your eyes.
Step 4. Relax your muscles.
Step 5. Breathe slowly and naturally, repeating your focus word or phrase silently as you exhale.
Step 6. Throughout, assume a passive attitude. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, “Oh, well,” and gently return to the repetition.
Step 7. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for a minute or so, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes open. Then do not stand for one or two minutes.
Step 8. Practice the technique once or twice a day.


Ogden, J. (2017). Health psychology: A textbook (4th ed.).McGraw Hill Education.
Sarafino, Edward P and Smith, Timothy W (2012). Health Psychology – Bio psychosocial Interaction (7th ed). Wiley India Edition.
Taylor, Shelley E. (2018). Health Psychology (10th ed). McGraw Hill Higher Education. Indian Edition
Weiten, W. and Lloyd, M. (2007). Psychology applied to modern life: Adjustment in the 21st century, Indian Edition 8th. Thomson

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