10 Ways to Cope With Stress

Stress can adversely affect our lives in multiple ways. Learning ways to cope with stress is imperative for holistic well-being.

What Is Stress?

At its core, stress is the body’s natural response to perceived threats or challenges. When an individual encounters a situation they perceive as stressful, their body goes into a state of heightened alertness. Therefore, learning ways to cope with stress is important for overall health and well-being.

The state of heightened alertness involves the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body to react quickly in the face of danger. It’s essentially the body’s way of gearing up to confront or escape from the perceived threat.1
Young man meditating alone in his bedroom at home

What Causes Stress?

Stress can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:
  • Work-related pressures
  • Academic demands
  • Family issues
  • Financial concerns
  • Health problems

While some degree of stress is a normal part of life, chronic or excessive stress can be harmful to both physical and mental health. Long-term stress has been linked to various health problems along with certain mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

What Are the Impacts of Stress on Physical Health?

Stress can have a profound impact on physical health. Learning how to cope with stress can help improve overall physical health and mitigate certain symptoms.
Here are some of the potential impacts of stress on physical health:2

Cardiovascular Issues

Chronic stress can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this may contribute to the development of cardiovascular problems. Stress is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, and an increased likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.

Weakened Immune System

Prolonged stress can also suppress the immune system’s functioning. This makes the body more susceptible to infections and illnesses. This means that individuals under chronic stress may experience more frequent colds and infections.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Stress can affect the digestive system, leading to issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, acid reflux, and abdominal discomfort. Chronic stress can exacerbate these conditions or increase the risk of developing them. Finding ways to cope with stress can decrease these issues.

Weight Gain or Loss

Stress can influence eating habits. This can lead some individuals to overeat or consume unhealthy foods as a coping mechanism, which can result in weight gain. Conversely, others may lose their appetite during stressful periods, leading to weight loss.

Muscle Tension and Pain

Stress often causes muscle tension. This can result in headaches, migraines, back pain, and neck pain. Persistent muscle tension can contribute to chronic pain conditions.

Sleep Disturbances

Stress can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Poor sleep quality, in turn, can increase stress and contribute to a cycle of sleeplessness and stress.

Skin and Hair Problems

Stress can cause or worsen skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and hives. It can also lead to hair loss.

Reproductive Health

Stress can affect reproductive health in both men and women. In women, it may disrupt menstrual cycles, reduce fertility, and lead to irregular periods. In men, stress can contribute to erectile dysfunction and decreased sperm quality.

Chronic Conditions

Stress may exacerbate symptoms and progression of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

Pain Sensitivity

Stress can make individuals more sensitive to pain, which can be particularly challenging for individuals with chronic pain conditions.
The severity and duration of stress play a role in determining its health consequences. Determining ways to cope with stress can help individuals reduce these physical health symptoms.

What Are the Impacts of Stress on Mental and Emotional Health?

Stress can also have significant impacts on mental and emotional health. Learning ways to cope with stress can effectively reduce some of these impacts.
Here are some of the key effects of stress on mental and emotional well-being:.3


Stress is closely linked to feelings of anxiety. When individuals are under stress, they may experience excessive worry, fear, or nervousness about future events or uncertainties. This can lead to generalized anxiety disorder or exacerbate existing anxiety disorders.


Prolonged or chronic stress can contribute to the development of depression. Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities can be common symptoms of both stress and depression.

Irritability and Mood Swings

Stress often leads to increased irritability and mood swings. Individuals may become easily frustrated, agitated, or have difficulty controlling their emotions.

Difficulty Concentrating

Stress can impair cognitive function and make it challenging to concentrate, make decisions, or think clearly. This can affect work or academic performance.

Substance Use Disorder

Some individuals turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with stress. This can lead to substance use disorder or addiction issues, further compounding mental health problems.

Negative Thought Patterns

Stress often involves negative thinking patterns, including self-doubt, self-criticism, and catastrophic thinking. These thought patterns can worsen mental health and self-esteem.

Social Isolation

People experiencing high levels of stress may withdraw from social activities and relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Utilizing ways to cope with stress can help mitigate isolation.

Exacerbation of Pre-Existing Mental Health Conditions

Stress can worsen symptoms in individuals already dealing with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Suicidal Thoughts

In severe cases, chronic stress and the emotional toll it takes can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. It’s essential for individuals experiencing these thoughts to seek immediate help from mental health professionals.
The relationship between stress and mental health is bidirectional, meaning that mental health issues can also contribute to heightened stress levels. Learning ways to cope with stress can help individuals work through some of these effects.

What Are 10 Ways to Cope With Stress?

While stress does cause many adverse effects, there are many ways to cope with stress. Here are 10 ways to cope with stress:

1. Make Time For Self-Care

Making time for self-care is one of the essential ways to cope with stress. When we prioritize self-care activities, we give ourselves a break from the demands and pressures of daily life. These moments of self-care provide a respite for our minds and bodies, allowing us to recharge and refocus.
Self-care also promotes a sense of control and well-being. This better helps us manage stressors when they arise. By nurturing our physical and emotional needs, we build resilience and equip ourselves with the tools to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

2. Maintain Structure and Stability

Another one of the best ways to cope with stress is to maintain stability. Predictable routines provide a sense of control and familiarity, which can help alleviate anxiety and uncertainty.
When we have a clear schedule and well-defined priorities, it becomes easier to manage our time and responsibilities. This helps to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Structure also allows for better time management, ensuring we allocate time for self-care, relaxation, and essential tasks.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Learning to say “no” is a crucial skill to cope with stress. Many people often overcommit themselves out of a desire to please others or fear of disappointing them. However, this can lead to overwhelming schedules and excessive stress.
By setting boundaries and politely declining requests or invitations that exceed our capacity, we regain control over our time. This reduces the likelihood of spreading ourselves too thin. Saying “no” allows us to prioritize our well-being and allocate time and energy to the most important aspects of our lives.

4. Get More Sleep

Getting enough sleep is another one of the fundamental ways to cope with stress. Adequate sleep allows our bodies and minds to recover, which is essential for stress management. When we’re sleep-deprived, our stress response becomes more reactive, making it harder to cope with challenges.
Quality sleep enhances our cognitive functioning, emotional resilience, and overall well-being. This enables us to approach stressors with a clearer mind and greater resilience.4

5. Practice Meditation

Meditation is another one of the ways to cope with stress. It encourages relaxation and mindfulness. This helps individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Regular meditation practice has been shown to lower stress hormone levels, reduce anxiety, and improve overall emotional well-being. By taking a few minutes each day to meditate, people can develop a calmer and more centered approach to life.5

6. Focus on Your Breath

Focusing on your breath is one of the most simple, yet highly effective ways to cope with stress. It serves as an anchor to the present moment, promoting mindfulness and relaxation. When you pay attention to your breath, it helps you shift your focus away from stressful thoughts and worries.
This mindful breathing technique can slow down your heart rate, reduce muscle tension, and activate the body’s relaxation response.

7. Exercise

Physical activity prompts the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. This can help combat stress and improve overall well-being. Regular exercise also reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, promotes better sleep, and enhances both physical and mental resilience.

Engaging in activities you enjoy, whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga, or a gym workout, provides an outlet for releasing pent-up tension and fosters a sense of accomplishment. These all contribute to more effective and sustainable ways to cope with stress.6

8. Spend Time Outdoors

Spending time outdoors is generally seen as one of the most effective ways to cope with stress. Nature offers a peaceful and tranquil environment that can soothe the mind and help alleviate stressors. The fresh air, natural scenery, and exposure to sunlight promote relaxation and mental clarity.
Additionally, outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, or simply sitting in a park can provide a healthy distraction from daily stressors and help improve mood. Nature’s calming influence on our senses makes spending time outside a simple yet powerful strategy for stress reduction and overall well-being.

9. Take a Break From Technology

Taking a break from technology can significantly help you cope with stress. Constant connectivity to devices and screens can lead to information overload, disrupted sleep patterns, and increased anxiety.
Disconnecting from technology, even for a short time, allows for a mental reset, reduces mental fatigue, and promotes relaxation. It creates space for more meaningful human connections and engagement with the present moment. This helps reduce our mental clutter and stress.

10. Talk It Out

Therapy is a valuable resource for reducing stress. It provides a safe and supportive space for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and stressors. Therapists offer practical coping strategies and techniques tailored to an individual’s specific needs.
Through therapy, people can gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of their stress. They can also develop healthier ways to manage it, as well as acquire valuable tools for enhancing their resilience.
Additionally, the therapeutic relationship itself fosters a sense of validation and support, which can significantly reduce feelings of isolation and help individuals navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and confidence.

Is It Beneficial to Utilize Both Holistic and Evidence-Based Ways to Cope With Stress?

Using both holistic and evidence-based techniques as ways to cope with stress can offer a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to stress management. Here are some of the benefits:


Holistic techniques often focus on the individual as a whole, considering their unique physical, mental, and emotional needs. Combining these with evidence-based strategies allows for a more personalized approach to reducing stress.

Balanced Approach

Evidence-based techniques are grounded in scientific research and have a proven track record of effectiveness.
By incorporating holistic methods alongside these evidence-based approaches, individuals can achieve a balanced approach that combines both the proven benefits of traditional methods and the mind-body-spirit connections of holistic practices.

Reduced Side Effects

Many holistic approaches have minimal or no side effects, making them a valuable addition to evidence-based ways to cope with stress. This can be particularly important for individuals who may be sensitive to medications or therapies with potential side effects.


Holistic techniques like deep breathing exercises can be used virtually anywhere and at any time, providing individuals with accessible tools for managing stress in various situations.
ways to cope with stresss

How Ethos Wellness Can Help You Find Ways to Cope With Stress

At Ethos Wellness, we care about you and your overall well-being. If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of stress or other co-occurring conditions, our team is here to help.

We will meet with you to determine the best course of treatment for your needs. This may include evidence-based treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, we also integrate holistic ways to cope with stress. This comprehensive care ensures a positive path forward.

Get in Touch Today

Our compassionate team at Ethos Wellness is here to listen to you and support you every step of the way during recovery and treatment. While we listed 10 ways to cope with stress above, we can help create a more personalized plan for your symptoms as well.

We’ve got your back every step of the way during recovery and treatment. Start your path forward with ways to cope with stress today with Ethos Wellness and get the support and treatment you deserve.

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Reach out to our Ethos Wellness team today for direction and guidance in your recovery journey. We’re here to provide you with the whole-person, personalized support you need for the sustainable wellness you deserve.

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