It’s hard to cope with stressful situations when you’re depressed. But there are a few things that you can do so that stress doesn’t knock you down. Some of the tips below might require a bit of practice before you get the hang of it, but stick with it.
Slow down and step back
Stress can make things feel more imminent and daunting than they might actually be. Give yourself some time to gather your thoughts, reflect on the situation, and realistically assess what’s going on and what needs to be done. Consider the bigger picture – ask yourself two questions: ‘How important is this?’ and ‘Will it matter in the long run?’ Chances are it’s probably not worth getting worked up over.
Breathe deep and relax
Stress can make your body and mind feel like they’re in over-drive. The simplest and easiest way to keep an even keel is to slow your breathing and focus on relaxing your muscles. Breathe deeply into your chest and stomach for 4 seconds, hold for 2-4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds. This will help to lower your heart rate and give you a moment to collect your thoughts.
If you feel like you’re getting too angry in a stressful situation that involves another person, end the conversation, take some space, and don’t resume talking until you’re calm.
Concentrate your attention elsewhere
Stress can consume your thoughts. It can be helpful to kick it out of your mind and replace it with something more calming and positive. Go for a walk, read a book, do a puzzle, meet up for coffee with a friend – the idea is to give your mind something to concentrate on besides what is stressing you out.
Talk it out
One of the most important things to do in a stressful situation that involves another person is to communicate effectively. This involves clearly expressing what you think, how you feel and what you want, without demanding that you must have things your way. The basic message is ‘We both matter – let’s try to work this out’.
Even with stressful issues that don’t involve another person, talking with a trusted friend, colleague, or therapist about what you’re confronted with will be immensely helpful. In fact, it’s essential – we should never feel like we have to figure things out on our own, as that leaves us feeling isolated, lonely, and frustrated.
Burn off energy
When your body sends out a stress response it thinks you have something you need to physically respond to. But we don’t often have to run away from charging animals or anything like that. Still, your body needs to respond to burn off this extra energy. Physical activity can be a great way to relieve stress. Go for a walk, take a jog, or hit the gym, whatever you feel up to.
Sometimes we try to cope with stress by distracting ourselves. Drinking, drugs, gambling, or losing ourselves in the internet are common ways that guys can distract themselves from stress. Unfortunately, these usually turn out to become bigger problems than the stress they’re trying to hide from.
If you’ve noticed that you’re trying to cope with stress by doing some of these things, click on the links below for some good advice to get yourself back on a more positive track.