About Stressful Situations

About Stressful Situations

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Momentary vs. Lasting Stress

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.

Stressful Situations

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:

  1. We feel unprepared for them.
  2. We are unhappy about them.
  3. We don't feel able to cope with them.

Build Good Coping Skills

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.

1. Understand the Situation

This step helps people feel more prepared to deal with stressful situations.

Coping Skills (cont.)

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude

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.

3. Take Action

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

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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