What Are Some Good Coping Mechanisms for Stress?

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We all face some form of stress in our lives from time to time. When we hold it in and don't address it properly, it can take a toll on our overall mental health and lead to problems like mental health and depression. In some cases, overwhelming stress can lead to substance misuse and addiction. We might not be able to always avoid stress, but we can prepare for it by knowing how to practice good coping mechanisms. 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we prioritize helping our clients to learn life skills such as good stress management. Developing this important life skill can help to prevent relapse and ensure a successful recovery upon leaving our treatment facility. 

Why Is Learning Good Coping Mechanisms for Stress Important for Mental Health?

When you hold on to stress over an extended period of time, that stress tends to build up more and more. It can affect you in ways you might not even be consciously aware of. For example, maybe you find yourself snapping at those around you more than usual, or saying things you don't really mean. Or maybe you have trouble focusing on a certain task at hand. 

Stress can really impact many aspects of your mental health. It can even affect your productivity and your performance at work or school. How are you supposed to give your all to one task when you're busy worrying about all the other responsibilities and things you want to get accomplished? 

Unaddressed stress can quickly lead to something known as burnout. When you experience burnout, you feel as if you're mentally and physically drained. You may no longer have the same sort of motivation you once did to put forth your best effort. 

Why Is Learning Good Coping Mechanisms for Stress Important for Physical Health?

Good coping mechanisms for stress are incredibly important for your overall physical health. It doesn't matter how young or otherwise healthy you may be; stress can quickly take a toll on your body. Stress can cause fatigue, digestive problems, sleep problems, weight gain, restlessness, muscle pain, and more. Chronic stress can even lead to more serious health complications like hypertension, heart attack, or stroke. 

However, perhaps one of the most serious problems that unaddressed stress can lead to is a higher likelihood of turning to substance misuse. When some people struggle with chronic stress, they may feel a certain desperation to find relief. This may lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. They may tell themselves they're just doing it to help settle their nerves, but such self-medicating practices can quickly turn into substance use disorder (SUD). 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we want to help our clients recognize the fact that there are far healthier and more effective ways to handle stress than substance use. This is why prioritize teaching good stress management so that our clients are prepared to handle anything that life may throw at them. 

What Coping Mechanisms for Stress Should I Try?

If you have been struggling with chronic stress, the first thing you should do is take a second to stop and reflect. What sort of things in your life are causing you the most stress, and can they be changed or removed completely? 

For example, maybe you've taken on more than you can handle at work. Maybe you could consider cutting back on your hours so you have more time for yourself. Or maybe there is a position that would be less taxing on your mental health that may be worth looking into. 

It's important to also work on saying “no" to certain invitations or obligations when you already have enough on your plate. This isn't rude. Rather, it's an important way to protect your own mental health. Try to focus on the things that matter the most to you in life and let go of the things that don't. You may be surprised by how little the things you've been stressing over really mattered. 

Additional Coping Mechanisms and the Importance of Self-Care

Additional coping mechanisms for stress worth trying include yoga, meditation, and journaling. These things can help ground you and allow you to process your thoughts. Make sure you are also making time for exercise on a regular basis. Not only does exercise relieve stress, but it releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood. 

Finally, make sure that you are practicing some form of self-care each and every day. This could include: 

  • Listening to calming music 
  • Reading a book 
  • Spending time out in nature 
  • Taking a walk
  • Going for a bike ride
  • Spending quality time with a family member or friend 
  • Taking a nap 
  • Watching your favorite television show 
  • Taking an exercise class
  • Asking for help from others when you need it 

Experiencing stress from time to time is a normal part of life. However, when stress comes to the point that it is affecting how you function and your overall quality of life, it can become a real problem. You don't need to feel as if substance misuse is your only way out. True and lasting relief from stress is possible. If you're struggling with substance use disorder, our team at Pathways Recovery Center can help. Don't hesitate to give us a call at (888) 771-0966 today. A member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our treatment program. We can help you to start living a happier and healthier life today.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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