Stress and Coping Strategies

Stress and Coping Strategies

According to the Mental health Foundation, stress  is our body’s natural response to pressure as the result of certain situations, environments, or life events that can be both positive and negative. Stress can take physical, cognitive, and emotional tolls on our overall functioning and well-being, and may look very different to many of us.

Often stress can often stir up feelings of overwhelm and a feelings of a lack of control. These responses to stress alert us that there is a potential threat which is often displayed through our nervous system responses to stress (i.e. fight, flight, freeze, or fawn). In some instances, we may experience such extreme stress that it can be difficult to return our nervous system to a state of calm. Our ability to cope can depend on a number of factors including our genetics, personality, life events, as well as our social and economic circumstances.


Coping refers to the efforts we make to manage situations that we have identified as potentially harmful or stressful. In order to effectively cope with stress, it is imperative that we are armed with a variety of coping strategies (not just one) to apply in real life situations.

Unhealthy coping strategies may include:
  • Avoidance behaviours
  • Over or under sleeping
  • Poor nutritional habits
  • Impulsive spending
  • Substance use
  • social withdrawal
  • self-harm
Healthy coping strategies may include:
  • Exercise
  • Talking about it
  • Social support
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Adequate sleep
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Seeking professional help

While stress may look differently to different individuals, stress can be managed in a healthy way. Psychotherapy can provide more effective ways of thinking, reacting and behaving to help reduce and eliminate symptoms of stress through the development of personalized healthy coping strategies.