How do you handle stressful situations? This is an important question to ask yourself in an attempt to take up healthy stress management. The life we live is always going to have something that will impact on us physically and emotionally, leading to stress. Different people have different coping mechanisms. Some turn to alcohol and others to exercises. But before we get into the healthy and unhealthy ways of stress management, let us understand some terms:

Acute stressors- these are stressful circumstances that are short-lived. In most cases, there are no long term effects on our emotions and physical health.

Chronic stressors- when it comes to this type, one should reach out for help. Chronic stressors take time to disappear. During the extended period, one may fall into a depression stage taking a toll on the body. Chronic stressors even affect the immune system. Such a situation would be a long financial hardship period.

Now, whether you have acute or chronic stress, there are three reactions. One can either deny or avoid the problem or turn to substance abuse. Denial is a stress response that helps one seek comfort in the face of a problem. After all, if you choose to believe there is no problem, then you do not have to deal with it.

On the other hand, avoidance changes your approach to a stressor. Avoidance is choosing to do something else instead of facing the situation. For instance, walking away from any stressful situation is considered as avoidance. Some of the avoidance methods include overworking, busyness and passive entertainment. These methods only push the stress to the side and over time, it accrues.

In substance abuse, this is an unhealthy way of dealing with stress. Substance abuse could be anything from drugs to food so long as it offers temporary relief. While it gives you relief, the long term effect is that it can cause dependency since you never try to solve the cause of the stress.

Even though these three ways work for a while, it is not the right approach. Therefore, one should seek to approach the problem instead. One way to do so is avoiding self-imposed stress. Plan so that you do not have problems that you could have avoided. Secondly, you can address the stressor. There is always a solution to every problem and if you can’t find it on your own, look for a friend to help. Finally, exercise. Exercises will reenergize the body and clear your mind paving way for healthy ways to cope with stress.

All in all, stress will always be part of our lives and it is up to us to find healthy ways to manage it. Do not allow yourself to fall into the substance abuse, denial or avoidance trap for relief.