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Any sort of change can make people feel stressed, even “good” change.What is considered stressful in life is very subjective - it can be very different for each individual. One person may feel stressed by retiring from work, while someone else may not feel stressed at all.  

But what you must keep in mind is it's not just the change or event itself, but your reaction to the change that plays an even bigger role as to how stressed it makes you. How do you react to change? Does it usually result in stress? One good way to deal with change is to learn how to quickly put things in perspective. Now, some things in life are undeniably stressful, but we still need to put them in perspective. Other things that we stress about we may really not need to stress about, we may just need a new outlook on them.

How to help gain a new outlook on unnecessary stressors:

  • Recognize negative self-talk. Negative self-talk CREATES stressors that don’t necessarily need to be stressors. (What your mind tells you and what is reality can be two completely different things.)
  • Ask yourself if the stressor is in your control. Is there anything you can do about it?
  • Take action with the things that you CAN control.
  • Instead of dreading something you find stressful, prepare for it to the best of your ability. This will allow you to feel more confident about the situation.
  • Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat.

Coping with stress:

Some people are very aware of how they cope with stress, while others are not. For example, one person may go for a run with the intent of burning off some of their stressful energy, while another person may reach for a beer and the TV remote to tune out and avoid dealing with stress at all. A lot of times it is people with avoidance or denial behaviors that aren’t fully aware of how they are dealing (or lack thereof) with their stress, which leads to another point. Coping skills are just as subjective as the stress itself and there are healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with stress.

Unhealthy:

  • Drugs
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Excess caffeine or energy drink use
  • Ignoring or storing hurt feelings (“bottling up” emotions)
  • Avoiding problems
  • Denial
  • Smoking
  • Compulsive spending
  • Emotional eating

Healthy:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Talking with a counselor
  • Staying connected with friends and family
  • Eating healthy balanced meals
  • Hobbies
  • Relaxation

How do YOU cope with stress? Would you consider your coping healthy, unhealthy or a mixture of both? If you do have unhealthy coping mechanisms, how can you start to move on to healthy coping mechanisms?