Learning to Cope with Stress

Every year, the first Wednesday in November is National Stress Awareness Day. We all know what it’s like to be stressed. Feeling pressure about different aspects of life: work, school, finances, health…it’s totally normal. Maybe you’re planning to relocate and you’re trying to find a place to live. Maybe you got into a fight with your best friend. No matter what it is, you can’t let it overwhelm you to the point where it prevents you from moving forward and living.

Everyone has certain situations or scenarios that make you feel stressed. What’s your trigger? Mine is when I am driving and I encounter other drivers who think they are the only ones on the road and screw things up for the rest of us. People who don’t listen or refuse to admit they are wrong. Neighbors who put their dog outside and let it bark nonstop at four in the morning… do any of these sound familiar? No matter what the situation, don’t let it get to you. Everyone has different coping methods. The trick is to find yours.

Here is what works for me. I just take deep breaths and remind myself that life is just an adventure. I also do things that sort of take my mind off the stress I am feeling, because honestly, the more you think about the stress you’re feeling, the more stressed out you’ll probably become!

This may sound weird, but when I am stressed out, I like to play video games. It really helps me calm down. Not sure why. I also like to go to the shooting range. I think both of those activities are a good release for me. Maybe it’s because I am focusing on that activity that I am doing, right there in that moment. I’m not thinking about whatever was stressing me out before. Other things I’ve heard that might be effective in dealing with stress… long bubble baths, yoga, meditation, playing sports, or just kicking back with a cold beer. Think about what works for you.

Another thing that may help you when you’re feeling stressed out is to figure out a comfortable routine. For example, some people just can’t deal with anything until they have their morning coffee. If you have a big and stressful day ahead of you, maybe it’s not a good idea to skip that coffee, because the comfort of that activity puts you in the right mood, the right mindset, to tackle whatever it is in front of you.

What really help the most? Talking about it. If you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, talk it out with a friend or family member. Sometimes, just getting it out is all you need to do to feel better about the situation. My friends are a big part of my life. They keep me grounded and engaged, so I’m not worrying about stuff all the time.

So, the next time you feel like you’re losing your mind and you’re all worried and stressed out, try to keep cool and think about what you can do to get yourself back on track.

About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.