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Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress

Jul 26, 2023 | Anxiety, Mental Health, Overwhelmed, Stress

With everything we have going on in our lives, avoiding stress simply isn’t an option. Stress serves a beneficial purpose at times, but it can have a negative impact on our bodies. When the body perceives stress, the adrenal glands produce cortisol.  Cortisol causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and affects every major organ in the body.  Because stress is not entirely avoidable, it is important to learn how to decrease the cortisol in our bodies as much as possible.

Prioritizing our mental and emotional well-being to navigate through life’s ups and downs successfully is of the utmost importance. In this blog, we will explore a range of healthy coping strategies that empower individuals to navigate difficult times, build emotional strength, and enhance their quality of life.

What Causes Most Of Our Stress?

While this will vary from person to person, the majority of life stresses come from a few major sources. These are typically related to work, family, relationships, living situations, and physical or mental health. In addition to this, people will have varying abilities to handle certain kinds of stress. Past experiences and triggers will play a large role in this.

For example, someone that has trauma in relation to poverty will be more sensitive to economic stresses than someone who has not experienced this. Socioeconomic factors play a part in this as well. It is important to remember that not all stress is created equal, and each person experiences it differently.

Yoga, Mindfulness, and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation practices have remained popular because of their ability to reduce stress and enhance the way we feel. Practicing mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This practice helps individuals cultivate self-awareness, improve focus, and promote relaxation.

Meditation, on the other hand, involves dedicating time to quiet the mind and achieve a state of deep relaxation. The regular practice of mindfulness and meditation can significantly reduce anxiety, increase resilience, and promote emotional balance.

When practicing mindfulness, you can focus on your breath, observe your thoughts without judgment, and take part in activities with full awareness. This practice allows you to develop a non-reactive stance towards stressors, enabling you to respond in a more composed and effective manner.

Meditation, on the other hand, involves finding a quiet space, adopting a comfortable posture, and focusing your attention on a specific object or mantra. It helps calm the mind, reduces racing thoughts, and promotes a sense of inner peace.

Working Out

Regular physical activity is not only beneficial for our physical health but also plays a massive role in our mental and emotional well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, which are known to boost mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Whether it’s going for a jog, practicing yoga, or participating in team sports, finding an activity that you enjoy can be a powerful outlet for stress relief and a means to improve overall well-being.

The science behind this is that physical activity promotes the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which contribute to feelings of happiness. It also helps reduce the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in the body. To make things even better, exercise can improve sleep quality, enhance cognitive function, and boost self-confidence.

Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine not only enhances your physical fitness but also provides an opportunity to clear your mind, improve focus, and find solace in movement.

Finding Creative Outlets

Finding creative outlets that make you happy is a powerful way to cope with stress and express emotions. It allows individuals to tap into their imagination, explore new ideas, and channel their emotions in a positive and constructive manner. Creative activities such as painting, writing, playing an instrument, or even gardening can serve as a therapeutic release, helping individuals process emotions and find solace. Through creativity, individuals can find a sense of fulfillment, boost self-esteem, and gain a fresh perspective on challenges they may be facing.

Expressive arts have been used as a form of therapy for decades, as they provide a non-verbal means of communication and self-expression. Regularly participating in activities stimulates the brain, promotes relaxation, and allows for emotional catharsis. Whether you’re painting a picture or playing music, the act of creation allows you to explore your emotions and find new ways to interpret and understand your experiences.

Social Support with Friends and Family

Building and maintaining meaningful connections with others is another great way to de-stress. Surrounding ourselves with a supportive network of family, friends, or community groups provides a sense of belonging and helps us navigate through challenging times. Also, sharing our thoughts and concerns with others can allow us to remove some of the weight we feel on our shoulders. Finding solidarity in peers is an excellent tool to use during hard times.

Human beings are incredibly social creatures by nature, and having strong social support systems has been linked to better mental health outcomes. Meaningful conversations and participating in group activities can all contribute to a sense of connectedness and belonging. When you feel like you are a part of something bigger, it can help put your personal stresses into perspective.

Another benefit of this is that you can positively impact someone else that might be struggling with stress. Having a mutually beneficial relationship with friends or peers is a powerful tool.

Healthy Lifestyle Practices

Adopting healthy lifestyle practices gives us the power to combat stress through our physical bodies. Eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or practicing gratitude, are key components of a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition fuels our bodies and minds, while quality sleep rejuvenates and restores our energy levels. When we prioritize self-care, we equip ourselves with the necessary tools to better manage stress and promote a positive mindset.

A balanced diet that is comprised of primarily whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides the nutrients we need to support brain function and regulate mood. If you are looking to destress, avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. This will help stabilize your energy levels and minimize mood swings.

On top of a healthy diet, getting sufficient sleep is another non-negotiable for de-stressing. Lack of sleep negatively impacts our cognitive abilities, emotional regulation, and immune system. Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment can enhance the quality and duration of sleep, allowing us to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.

Life is filled with challenges, but it’s how we respond to them that determines our well-being. With a firm foundation of healthy coping mechanisms, we can build resilience and enhance our overall quality of life. Mindfulness and meditation, physical activity and exercise, and adopting healthy lifestyle practices are all powerful tools at our disposal.

We can actively choose to prioritize our mental and emotional well-being by incorporating these coping strategies into our daily lives, enabling us to thrive and find peace amidst life’s trials. As with anything, you will need to use trial and error to find what works best for you. With self-care and healthy coping mechanisms on our side, we can navigate life’s challenges with as little stress as possible.

New Dimensions Can Help!

Sometimes stress becomes overwhelming, and you need help to address the anxiety and depression your stress has caused.  New Dimensions has Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP) for adolescents and adults.  We have three locations across Greater Houston – Clear Lake, The Woodlands, and Katy, Texas.  New Dimensions provides both in-person and virtual online treatment programs.  To learn more about our treatment programs, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at  To learn about individual, couples, or family therapy options, visit