How to Face Stressful Situations

January 8, 2020
Stressful situations aren't easy, and yet they're also opportunities for growth. In this article, we're going to talk about some strategies that can help you manage stress.

There are moments and situations in your life that has a great impact on you. However, each person reacts differently in the face of adversity. Since we all go through stressful situations, we decided to give you some timely advice on the topic.

Throughout this article, we’ll talk about coping with stressful situations and share some strategies to help you face them.

A woman with a headache.

What are stressful situations?

Stress can be defined as the “tension caused by overwhelming situations that leads to psychosomatic reactions or psychological disorders“.

Thus, a stressful situation is an overwhelming situation, whether it’s physical, psychological, or social. However, whether your health will be affected or not depends on several different factors.

The causes of stress can be diverse. Here are some of them:

  • Overload and lack of job satisfaction.
  • Facing an illness.
  • Problems with your partner, family, friends, or work colleagues.
  • A test.
  • A move.
  • Not knowing how to say no.
  • Not having any free time.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Lack of leisure time.
  • Too many chores.
  • Traffic jams.

There are also several physical causes of stress, such as overexertion, bad posture, lack of sleep, hunger, unusual weight variations, frequent headaches, and atopic dermatitis, among others.

Strategies for dealing with stressful situations

There are different ways to deal with stressful situations. By learning to cope with them, you’ll increase your well-being, thus improving your quality of life. However, these strategies require dedication. Let’s look at some of them.

Communication when dealing with stressful situations

We all communicate constantly. However, you need to ask yourself whether you usually do it assertively. This kind of communication requires you to be aware of the message you want to convey. You’ll need to manage your thoughts and emotions so that your message reaches the other person in the most effective way possible.

On the other hand, when we talk about communication, we’re not only talking about what you communicate through written and spoken language but also what you project through your body language. Being assertive in your communication means that you have to take all these areas into account.

So how can communication help you cope with stressful situations? The reason is that, when you get your message across well, you avoid any tension that you may have felt if you hadn’t been able to express yourself clearly. Moreover, it’s also a good way to ask for help. So consequently, this will give you added strength to face life’s challenges.

Emotional management

Emotional management is an essential issue when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. At first, it can be complex but, once you get used to knowing the right times and occasions to express your emotions, it’ll be a lot easier for you.

Imagine that you’re feeling really stressed and angry at work. You’d love to tell everyone exactly how you’re feeling. However, you’d probably lose control and make the whole situation worse. The good news is that you can find other ways or occasions to vent your feelings. For example, through meditation.

Resilience after a stressful situation

We’re all capable of developing resilience. It’s about overcoming problems and moving forward when the odds are stacked against you. Resilience also has to do with how much support a person has, both human and material. Your attitude and priority-making expertise also come into play here. Although the options you have to choose from may not be ideal, you need to learn how to use them to make the best decisions.

Organizing your time

You may feel stressed and overwhelmed knowing that you don’t have enough time to do everything that you want to. Again, it’s worth stopping to think about what your priorities are. Once you establish them, you’ll be able to make a schedule of activities.

The idea is, of course, that you follow that schedule. In order to do this, it’s essential that you don’t set high, unattainable goals and be disciplined. This will help you not shoot yourself in the foot.

Follow a routine

Routine helps to lessen daily cognitive exertion. You make a decision and apply the results, and this means that you don’t have to go through the same decision-making process every time. This makes it easier for you to devote your resources to making other decisions, and, as a result, you’ll reduce the overall stress in your life.

Routine provides you with security because you’re clear about what you’re about to do. In addition to this, it also helps you to organize your time, and these healthy habits will have a direct impact on your well-being.

Letting it flow

This means not anchoring yourself to any given situation. You’ll be able to solve some problems, while not others. However, in many cases, the most difficult thing is to distinguish one from another.

Letting go also means not going against the flow. You need to learn to adapt and accept the things you can’t change. Being too rigid only increases the tension you have to bear until you finally break.

A sad woman.

Living day by day and moment by moment

When you’re left wondering what would have happened if you’d said or done things differently, you’re giving too much importance to the past. As a result, you’ll often end up hurt and feed negative emotions, such as shame, sadness, or guilt.

Although emotions can be valuable, they’re not always easy to classify as good or bad. On the other hand, their effect on us, and their way of conditioning our state of mind, will depend to a large extent on how we manage them. One of the worst ways to manage them is to chew things over and over in your mind as if you were chewing gum.

Something similar happens when you focus on the future all the time. By doing so, you’re simply feeding your anxiety, and this can make you feel very bad. It isn’t bad to think about the future but the problems start when you anchor yourself there.

Mindfulness

To make the most of these situations, you could consider some mindfulness techniques that invite you to develop your awareness. In fact, there’s research that supports the idea of practicing them. Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, and Freedman, in their article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, show us the effectiveness of mindfulness to treat both physical and psychological symptoms.

However, you should bear in mind that, as you’ll never be able to cope with everything that life throws at you, it’s never a bad idea to ask for help. Experts, such as psychologists, can support you in these difficult times.

There are thousands of stressful situations, and they’ll affect you in different ways, depending on different factors. An important thing would be to consider some strategies to avoid getting hurt. You need to understand that negative emotions are part of the journey. It’s not bad to feel them, but it is bad to try to contain them or not deal with them at all.

Shapiro, S.L. Carlson, L.E., Astin, J.A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mecanisms of mindfulness. Jounral of clinical psychology, 62 (3), 373-386.

Paris, L., & Omar, A. (2009). Estrategias de afrontamiento del estrés como potenciadoras de bienestar. Psicología y Sañud, 19(2), 167-175.