Life is full of ups and downs, and some of them can be stressful.
Sometimes stress just lasts a moment — like getting through a school play audition or making the foul shot that could win the game. But life can also bring situations that might keep us stressed for a few days, weeks, or months. Even if we're not always thinking about this stress, it can be like a background soundtrack playing in our lives.
If you're like most people, you've faced these kinds of lasting stressful situations. They can cause stress to build or wear us down over time.
Life situations can create stress for several reasons:
How well — or how poorly — we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us. It's how we deal with stressful situations that makes all the difference.
Here are some steps you can take when dealing with a stressful situation.
This step helps people feel more prepared to deal with stressful situations.
A positive attitude helps stop you from being dragged down by unhappy feelings. Having a positive attitude is about more than feeling better (or being nicer to be around!), though: A positive attitude actually boosts the problem solving that a stressful situation requires.
Research has shown that a positive attitude helps us see the possibilities within a situation, while negative thinking narrows our view.
After you think about your situation and identify and accept the feelings you have, move on to actions you can take to lessen the stress you feel.
Stressful situations can test our strength, for sure. Whatever you're facing, it can help to think through the situation, accept the emotions you feel, keep a positive attitude, focus your efforts on what you can influence, get support, and care for yourself. All these things can help you cope with your situation, lessen the stress and its effects on you — and help you come through feeling strong and confident.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2013
|American Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.|
|SAFE-Alternatives.com This website is dedicated to ending self-abuse and offers resources and information.|
|Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) CMHS is a federal agency that provides information about mental health to users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media.|
|National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) NIMH offers information about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses, and supports research to help those with mental illness.|
|Stress There's good stress and bad stress. Find out what's what and learn practical ways to cope in this article.|
|Stress & Coping Center Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.|
|Peer Pressure Responding to peer pressure is part of human nature — but some people are more likely to give in, and others are better able to resist and stand their ground. Find out how to make the right choices for you.|
|School Counselors School counselors can give you all sorts of tips and support on solving problems and making good decisions. But how do you meet with a counselor and what is it like? Find out here.|
|Teens Talk About Stress (Video) In this video, teens talk about what stresses them out and how they cope.|
|About Serious Stress Serious stress can come from dealing with a personal crisis, a disaster, a health crisis, or a mental health condition that feels out of control. Here's what to do when stress gets really serious.|
|About Stressful Feelings Negative emotions are impossible to avoid and everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don't have to be stressful. Find out how to deal with stressful feelings.|
|Going to a Therapist Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.|
|Finding Low-Cost Mental Health Care If you need mental health care but don't think you can afford it, you're not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.|
|Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Sometimes after experiencing a traumatic event, a person has a strong and lingering reaction known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Getting treatment and support can make all the difference.|
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