Self-Help tips on coping with stress

By Drum Digital
10 July 2014

Expert's practical tips on how to cope with stress

The more we understand how stress affects us as individuals, the more likely we are to come up with ways to help ease the tensions.

Here are some expert suggestions:


  • Physical activity: When you’re nervous, angry, or upset, release the pressure through exercise or physical activity. Running, walking, playing tennis or working in your garden are activities you might try to relieve that “uptight” feeling, relax you, and turn frowns into smiles. Remember, your body and your mind work together.
  • Share your stress: Talk to someone about your concerns or worries. A friend, family member, teacher or counsellor can help you see your problem in a different light. If you feel your problem is serious, seek help from a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional. Knowing when to ask for help could prevent more serious problems later.
  • Know your limits: If a problem is beyond your control and can’t be changed at the moment, don’t fight the situation. Learn to accept what is – for now – until such time when you can change it.
  • Take care of yourself: You are special. Get enough rest and eat well. If you’re irritable and tense from lack of sleep or if you’re not eating correctly you’ll be less able to deal with stressful situations. If stress repeatedly keeps you from sleeping, ask your doctor for help.
  • Make time for fun: Schedule time for both work and recreation. Play can be just as important to your wellbeing as work. You need a break from your daily routine to just relax and have fun.
  • Be a participant: Help yourself by helping other people. Instead of feeling frustrated or sorry for yourself, get involved. Offer your services in your neighbourhood or at volunteer organisations. When you get involved in the world and other people, you will find they’re attracted to you. You’ll be on your way to finding new friends and enjoying new activities.
  • Check off your tasks: Trying to take care of everything at once can seem overwhelming and as a result you may not accomplish anything. Instead, make a list of your tasks then do them one at a time, checking them off once completed. Give priority to the most important ones first.
  • Must you always be right? Do other people upset you – particularly when things aren’t going your way? Try cooperation instead of confrontation – it’s better than fighting and always being “right”. A little give and take on both sides will reduce the strain and make you both feel more comfortable.
  • It’s okay to cry: A good cry can be a healthy way to bring relief to your anxiety and it may even prevent a headache or other physical consequence. Taking some deep breaths also release tension.
  • Create a quiet scene: You can’t always run away, but you can “dream the impossible dream”. Change the scene by reading a book or playing beautiful music to create a sense of peace or tranquillity.
  • Avoid self-medication: Although you can use prescription or over-the-counter medication to relieve stress temporarily, medication should only be taken on the advice of your doctor.


Call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group toll-free on 0800-20-50-26.

You can also call LifeLine’s national crisis line on 0861-322-322.


A shared laugh can reduce stress and tension.

 - Vida Li Sik



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