How To Cope With Stress

Woman with eyes closed in front of sunset.
Dougal Waters / Getty Images

Learning to cope with stress can be a powerful weapon in your fight against depression. These strategies can help.

  1. When you feel stressed, practice taking long, deep breaths.
  2. Take regular breaks from your work.
  3. Get regular exercise. Shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes three times per week.
  1. Eat a balanced diet.
  2. Avoid caffeine, which is a stimulant.
  3. Avoid depending upon drugs and alcohol to help you relax. This can quickly become a crutch.
  4. Learn time management and organization skills.
  5. Use humor to lighten difficult situations.
  6. Seek to find the positive in every situation. View adversity as an opportunity for learning and growth.
  7. Do not bury your emotions. This is a temporary fix at best. Unresolved emotions can contribute to a variety of issues including resurfacing as nightmares and physical symptoms.
  1. If you find that a relationship makes you stressed, you need to re-evaluate the relationship and possibly end it. If that isn't possible, remember that you may not be in control their behavior, but you are in control of how you react to it.
  2. Give compliments freely and smile often. You'll be amazed how the mood around you will change and how in turn you will feel better.
  1. Learn to really listen to what others are saying rather than getting upset because you disagree. Seek to find areas of common ground and work for a compromise.


  1. Scented candles, soft music and a hot bath are great ways to relax after a hard day.
  2. Many report that herbs such as valerian and kava kava help them relax. Be aware, however, that there have been rare case reports linking kava kava use to liver toxicity.
  3. Meditation or biofeedback training can be an excellent way to control your body's response to stress.


Rakel, David. Integrative Medicine ​2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2007.