How to Cope with Stress Effectively

When you are striving to cope with stress, two factors are important: You need warm and supportive relationships with family and friends, and you need to talk. However, when you are under stress, whether it’s from a disaster or other problems, you may not want to talk to anyone or be with anyone. You need to recognize the benefits of talking to family and friends.

Just expressing feelings helps to reduce stress. Through talking, you learn that you are not alone, that you don’t have to solve every problem by yourself. You discover that others have faced similar problems and survived. You can compare with others your responses to a stressful situation and know that you’re not abnormal. Talking with others is also a positive action; you are reaching out to others rather than withdrawing.

Ideally, when you have stress, your home is the place where you can talk and where you find emotional support and encouragement. If you cannot talk to your parent or to siblings, try talking to a counselor, clergy person, neighbor, or another relative. Share your worries with someone you trust and respect.
During times of stress, you should be able to rely on your family and friends for emotional support. In fact, the caring and understanding of others can help reduce stress. People who care about you can help bring a sense of comfort and trust into your life. Uncertainty, lack of control and change create stress in your life. Those who give you support can offer you predictable behavior and shared values. This can help reduce some of the stress or even prevent it in the first place.

When you seek the support of those who care for you, or when you are offering your support to others, you need to communicate. By talking to others, you share your feelings and you learn about the feelings of others. Don’t assume you know what other people are thinking, and don’t assume they know how you feel unless you tell them.
Take time to talk with your family members each day. Schedule a regular time for talking— such as before bed or after dinner—and stick to it as much as possible. Keep the television and other distractions off while you talk.

Just by talking, you can:
• Let off steam. Before you can attack a problem, you need to calm down so you can think clearly.
• Clarify problems. Talking can sometimes help you focus on a problem. You can make choices and decisions. It can give you hope and ideas for action to help solve some of your problems.
• Share ideas. The person you are talking with may have some new ideas for you. He or she can listen to your thoughts and opinions and add to them or modify them. While talking, you may come up with some new solutions in your own mind.
• Get encouragement. You no longer have to feel as if you are dealing with your problems all by yourself. You are not alone.
• Put things in perspective. Another person’s point of view and experience may help you see your problems, and the stress that goes with them, in a different light.