Strategies for coping with stress

Strategies for coping with stress are a part of the relationship between stress and wellbeing.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses operant conditioning in conjunction with scientific equipment in order to reduce stress. Information regarding the individual’s physiological responses (heart rate, galvanic skin response etc.) is acquired by use of sensitive instruments. Then, using operant conditioning, the individual learns how to manually adapt their physiological processes by altering their thoughts.

Biofeedback is only a short-term strategy, and tends to require a lot of equipment to be effective.

Meditation/relaxation

Meditation is an altered state of consciousness in which an individual focuses heavily on a single external (such as immediate acoustic sensory information) or internal (such as their breathing) phenomenon. During both meditation and relaxation, physiological processes change (lowered heart rate, blood pressure etc.) and brainwave patterns become similar to those of stage 1 NREM sleep.

Physical exercise

Physical exercise can benefit one’s stress response in a multitude of ways, potentially improving all dimensions (physical, mental and social) of health, thus reducing stress. Sometimes, it is referred to as ‘moving meditation,’ as athletes often focus their attention solely on their breathing or another individual phenomenon. However, exercise also comes with the advantage of the release of endorphins, which stimulate positive feelings in the body.

Social support

Social support is, in general, essential for health and wellbeing, but it can also help one to cope with a stressful situation. Close friends and family often provide emotional (and otherwise) assistance, which lessens the burden of stress on the sufferer. Following an environmental disaster, social support often comes to the forefront, such as money-raising following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, or the more recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.